General News of Thu, 22 Feb 201811
Free SHS: Government is right to address access issues – Deputy Education Minister
Deputy Education Minister, Dr Yaw Adutwum has rebutted claims by a section of the public that government has focused its attention to addressing access to the detriment of other challenges in education sector.
The deputy Education Minister insisted that contrary to those assertions, government has instituted measures to curb the challenges and improve the provision of education in the country.
Many people including former Vice-Chancellor of University of Ghana, Professor Aryeetey have raised concerns over government's primary focus on ‘easy’ access to education instead of making “quality education” a priority as far as the implementation of free Senior High School (SHS) Policy is concerned.
“Access to education facilities which is very very important and needs to be pursued at all times. But as a result of many efforts that we’ve made as a nation over the years, the access problem is not as acute as it was 15 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago. It’s not as acute as that,” Prof Aryeetey argued while adding that, “If that is the most important thing today, why are we focusing on something that may not be as pressing? Why are we not focusing on ensuring that the schools that we’ve built can deliver?”
But responding to these concerns in an interview with www.ghanaweb.com, Dr Adutwum explained that “if you are an educationist and you know education policy and administration you will realise that the access debate that people normally associate with infrastructure, they miss the point there and also when you talk about let us focus on access and not quality, the mistake you are making is that you have forgotten 100, 000 students who are at home because of lack of access so you introduce a serious equity issue that you are not even thinking about, you are not thinking about those from deprived communities”
He emphasized that government has put in place concrete measures to deal with the challenge of quality in educational sector especially issues of quality as a result of the introduction of Free SHS.
"The balance you have to do is improve access but confront quality and make sure that as you boost access you are also improving quality. We are going to get problems fixed as we move along. I don’t want students to be staying in their homes. I don’t want to be adding 100, 000 frustrated students to a pool of frustrated JHS graduates who could have gone to SHS but couldn’t go because their parents couldn’t afford,” he argued.
The free Senior High School initiative has been touted by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) as a major policy and has reportedly absorbed more than 90, 000 first year students but has been fraught with challenges of inadequate materials, infrastructure and feeding for the students.