Opinions of Sat, 22 Jul 20178

Free SHS: Parents must be made to pay for their children's education

The key to success as we literally say in our dialects is EDUCATION and to every Ghanaian child, education is a right not a privilege.

If information and knowledge are central to democracy, they are the conditions for development. According to Oxford Dictionary, the word free can be traced to "thrown open, or made accessible, to all; to be enjoyed without limitations; unrestricted; not obstructed, engrossed, or appropriated; open; said of a thing to be possessed or enjoyed".

Therefore free senior high school depicts that it'll be made accessible to all. In fact this is everybody's hope because it is their right not a privilege. A right delayed is a right denied as said by Martin Luther King Jr.

As a student and a columnist, I have looked at several reasons why parents must be made to bear the cost of their children's education and this is not a crime.

To start with, every parent is cognizant of his or her responsibilities as a father or mother.

Before any couple decides to bring forth a child, it is assumed they have made adequate preparations to cater for the needs of the child including the provision of funds for his education. Though there may be misfortunes or unwanted ones as well.

In the first place, whom does the parent expect to pay for his child's education? Why should a parent decide to bring forth children, when he knows very well he or she is not adequately prepared to pay their school fees, cloth and feed them?

Any attempt to appeal to the government or even benevolent institutions to help pay the cost of education to any group of children living in any part of this country will be a deliberate attempt to help their parents shirk their responsibilities.

Though there may be individuals, organizations, government and government officials that will be willing to adopt or cater for the needy but the brilliant child or any other and frankly speaking I am not against that act, it is godly and accustomed with more blessings.

If parents are made you pay for the cost of their children's education, enormous pressure will be put on them to plan their families. They will think about how many children to have and when to have them.

If a parent gives birth to so many children whose education he cannot pay for, he will need nobody to tell him to adopt family planning methods to limit the size of his family to enable him provide them sound education. In this way, population explosion could be curbed.

The government has involved a lot of scholars to look at this decision to provide free senior high school for September 2017 year group but, has any Ghanaian pondered to ask what will happen when the FREE SHS policy is launched?

The answer is obvious. Parents everywhere would not mind bringing forth as many children as they can. In the event, the nation will be the loser as a lot of resources and technical expertise would be needed to battle against the adverse effects of over-population.

Moreover, to ensure children have access to quality education, parents in developed countries like Britain, France, United States and Germany, to mention a few, are made to bear the cost of their children's education.

The mind-boggling question is that if parents are made to pay for the cost of their children's education, even in developed countries (that we sometimes depends on them) why at all should citizens of a developing country like ours be made to dream of a free-free education for their children?

Is it a crime to make parents invest in their own children by paying a part of the cost of their education? I pause for answers.

I wish to draw attention to the fact that making education free (free SHS) in the country will make it non-competitive. In an environment where children are made to enjoy free compulsory SHS, students adopt a lackadaisical approach towards learning.

Their parents are also not bothered at all because they think they have invested nothing and have nothing to lose. Parents, quite often, take their children to farm or engage them in several business activities on school days.

They at times invite those at the boarding house to come home to celebrate parties and funeral festivities. Little effort is made by parents to ensure that their wards study to raise the level of their performances.

It is in the light of these unsavory developments that children should not be made to enjoy the free SHS policy and if their parents are made to invest by paying the cost of their education, they would adopt more positive attitude to encourage their children to study. The children in turn will be serious in order not to disappoint their parents.

I pause to ask, is cost sharing of education not the panacea to get more schools established even in the remotest parts of our country? Or open more job employing avenues for them immediately they complete school? Our country have limited number of schools, hospitals, markets security services and so on.

I cannot give the accurate number but can estimate the number of students that complete our state owned universities each year and find themselves no job to do. Funds that will be raised for this free SHS can be incurred in other sectors to boom our economy.

Though free SHS in the political perspective is good, but it is rather and unfortunate our country will be facing a falling standard of education and making it non-competitive.

From these views, it is crystal clear that parents should be made to bear the cost of their children's education and hence make it attractive and competitive.

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