General News of Tue, 14 Feb 201712
Free SHS policy is long overdue - NAGRAT
The President of the National Association of Graduate Teacher, Christian Addae-Poku has lauded President Akufo-Addo's drive to fully implement the free Senior High School Policy in September this year and described it as long overdue.
According to him, the initiative will give more underprivileged students who hitherto couldn't afford the cost of Senior High School education a new lease of life and propel them to become better persons in society.
"As a teacher, l know the trauma students go through when they are sacked out of the classroom for nonpayment of fees. I know how students are destructed and psychological affected when they come to school on empty stomach. This policy will take these burdens off and motivate students to be more focused," Mr. Addai-Poku posited.
Oh his part, every student anywhere in Ghana irrespective of their background whether rich or poor should have equal access to quality education.
Speaking on 'State of Affairs' on GhOne TV, the President of the Coalition of Concerned Teachers, King Ali Awudu also added that the free SHS policy if successfully implemented will make education a right to all and change the public misconception that education is the preserve of the elite in society.
"Admission fees doubled every year, school fees increases and cost of education materials keeps shoring up every now and then. Many students have become school dropouts because of their parents are unable to patronize these things. I'm happy because this going to be giant step to a great change in our educational system," Mr. Ali Awudu stated.
However, his co-panelist, the Head for Centre for Economic, Governance and Political Affairs - IMANI Ghana, Mr. Patrick Stephen expressed worry that though the free SHS policy is good, there is no full policy detail on the program by government to allow for a comprehensive evaluation of the entire scheme.
He also expressed dissatisfaction on how the entire free SHS program has been generalized and wholesaled.
"This policy is good but there ought to have been a proper criteria of identifying underprivileged students who are having challenges of fee payment for them to be catered for. Because obviously there are parents who are not having difficulties at all paying the fees of their wards in school. There should have been a criteria in which parents can demonstrate that they are having difficulty paying their fees before they are sanctioned for this policy package. But the way the system has been cluttered, if we are not careful the rich who will be benefiting from this policy will end up denying the deprived the opportunity to benefit immensely from this fine policy," Mr. Stephenson noted.
For the program to be successful, Mr. Stephenson recommended that previous instances where teachers had to hit the street in demonstration before their salaries are paid ought to be addressed urgently so that teachers will be encouraged to deliver quality tuition.
He also called from a shift in the education model in which students are only taught how to pass examination to a more creative and problem solving approach.
Mr. Addae- Poku emphasized that quality education is important and should be a topmost priority to the government while expanding the infrastructure base to increase enrollment and reward systems to motivate teachers to be more efficient.
He also advised government to ensure timely release of funds for all the things stipulated in the free SHS policy for a smooth takeoff and onward facilitation.
The president of the Coalition for Concerned Techers, Mr. King Ali Awudu recommended a 3-4 year revision of the policy to correct all defaults that might have arisen in the execution of the policy and said his association will keep the government in check to ensure that it does not renege on it promises.