General News of Wed, 21 Feb 201851

Why focus on access when quality is the problem? – Prof Aryeetey on free SHS

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Professor Ernest Aryeetey, ex-UG Vice Chancellor has 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.

The free SHS scheme has been touted by the NPP as a major policy since its inception but Prof Aryeetey adviced the ruling party to deal with the root cause of educational issues especially with the high illiteracy rates in the country.

According to the Academician, “Policymaking in the development context is about solving problems. You use policies to solve problems. So if I want to solve problems in education the first question I would ask myself is what is the problem I want to solve?”

Meanwhile, Prof Aryeetey in a recent submission at the 4th lecture of Achimota Speaks said making Senior High School education free without corresponding investment is a waste of time. He decried the gap in the quality of education at International Schools as compared to public Senior high schools and warned that failure to reverse the trend will spell doom for the country’s human resource.

He averred on '21 minutes with KKB’ that the nation has come far with when it comes to the accessibility of education over the past 15 to 30 years. However, he reiterated that it is not the “most important” for him and other educationists.

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“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.”

“Today the growth in enrolment rate is far higher than the African average. So the access issue is there but not the most important for me and for most people in education also.” He admitted

Insisting that free SHS policy must enable corresponding measures to ensure its sustainability, Prof Aryeetey claimed that there are at least 25 issues pertaining quality education which needed to be tackled.

While he did not mention what those ‘pertinent’ problems affecting the educational system in the country were, he queried the host “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?”

The Free Senior High School program is the flagship education program by the new government that seeks increase access to Secondary Education by removing the burden of paying fees from parents.

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Under the policy, government would foot all bills including feeding fees, tuition fees and all other charges.

Over 420,000 eligible students are expected to enjoy the program.

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