Free SHS: Good concept but quality is key

Wed, 10 May 2017 Source: Daniel Amateye Anim

The issue of free Senior Hihf School (SHS) became a major issue for discussion and analysis, especially during the 2012 general election.

It was one of the major campaign messages put out by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and more recently when President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo informed Ghanaians that it would take off this September 2017 when he delivered the state of the nation’s address.

When he assumed office, ex-President John Dramani Mahama’s government championed what he described as “progressive free basic education”. His concept and approach to improving the standard and accessibility of education led to the establishment of day community senior high schools across the country.

It is evidently clear that, as a people, we have realised that education is key and critical in our development equation. The acknowledgement that education is paramount in the quest to transform our economy by creating wealth and improving the living standards of the citizens is a step in the right direction.

From personal analysis with regard to views expressed by experts in education, as well as political commentators and views of various political parties on the issue of free SHS, I can conclude that it’s a good concept.

However, their major concern has to do with sustainable means of funding such a concept. I sincerely believe that looking for funds to support a vision necessary to empower the citizens and equally transform the fortunes of this country shouldn’t be a problem. This is where leadership becomes a critical factor.

I am of the view that as much as it is important to discuss the sustainability or otherwise of “Free SHS”, it’s equally expedient to spend time to look at innovative ways of funding this dream. It is important to acknowledge and respect the pessimistic views expressed by those who think that the “free SHS” is far from fetching. I strongly believe that their assertion was based on empirical evidence.

The challenge of funding education stems from the colonial era to post independence era up to date. As a result, there was enough evidence to suggest that this concept of “Free SHS” will face funding difficulty.

The critical question for determination is : Should Nana Akufo Addo’s government forget about it for now? Personally, I believe that it’s about time we boldly confronted our fears and limitations and did extraordinary things that will propel development. Considering resources at our disposal, we should be able as a country to execute projects that will create a prosperous future.

Quality is key

Free education is a good concept. This is because it will give every Ghanaian child, regardless of the economic status of parents, the opportunity to have a secondary education; it will create a well-informed society and as a result empower the citizens to appreciate national policies necessary to propel economic growth and development.

Mr President, as much as most of us appreciate your government’s determination to institute free SHS education, I trust that quality would not be compromised. I hereby suggest few things that in my candid opinion will enhance quality education and make this vision a better one.

? Provision of well-resourced science laboratories.

? Standard libraries stocked with learning resources. ? Computer laboratories. ? Student-teacher ratio should be looked at seriously. ? Motivation of teachers should be paramount.

Strategy for funding

‘Between the idea and the reality. Between the motion and the act, falls the shadow’. T. S. Eliot (1888-1965), The Hollow Men (1925).

According to Sun Tzu, “All men can see the tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which great victory evolved.” One of the greatest value of a strategic leader is to devise a strategy to mobilise resources, both human and economic, as well as technological to actualise a dream. It is evidently clear Mr President that most of the citizens cannot see the funding strategy for the free SHS, hence the degree of doubt about its sustainability.

I believe that one of the greatest legacies you will leave behind as the President of Ghana would be the “Free SHS” concept. However, we wouldn’t like this concept of free SHS to collapse after you leave office. It is for this reason that I am calling on you to come out with a clear and holistic strategy for its sustainability. I will end by saying, Mr President, Make it happen, make it sustainable.

The Writer is an Economist and Management Consultant. He is the Lead Consultant at Nene Banks Management Consult.

Writer’s E-mail: denim@nenebanks.com or animamateye@yahoo.com

Columnist: Daniel Amateye Anim
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