Free SHS policy; Ghana has done it again but need to improve on it

Sun, 17 Sep 2017 Source: Alhaji Alhasan Abdulai

With the launch of the Free Senior High School policy by the government, Ghana seems to be pursuing a cause mooted since independence of Ghana, to improve on our country’s education.

But since 1957 it has not been fully implemented till now. The program began in September will take off to a large extent the financial burden of parents on the education of their children. Farmers and workers in the low ebb as well as wealthy people would be able to send their children to school with very little problems.

It is a universally accepted requirement for all nations to marshal their resources to promote education of their citizens. In fact, most people accept the fact the rapid development of every nation depend largely on the turning out well-educated people with right orientation.

When Ghana attained independence the first government of Ghana under Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah laid emphasis on education by setting up the Ghana Education Trust through which many school buildings especially secondary school buildings were erected throughout the country. Education became free in the northern part of Ghana. Scholarships were offered to children of cocoa farmers. DR Kwame Nkrumah followed up with a scholarship scheme to middle schools with the distribution of free books but this fizzled out after the overthrow of the government of Dr. Nkrumah and CPP as a result of the 1966 coup.

As they were basking in joyous mood beneficiaries of the new program and members of the ruling New Patriotic Party [NPP] were seen singing and dancing in praise of the government of NPP under Nana Addo Danquah Akufo Addo. The international community especially the African Union were full of praise for the feat chalked by the NPP.

Indeed, East African nations of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda are currently experimenting free education policy at the basic level offering the policy with some teething problems. Mr Kwaku Baako the Editor of Crusading Guide commended the president for the bold step in launching the free SHS policy. He said Nana Akufo Addo is following the footsteps of Dr Kwame Nkrumah describing the President as the next "Nkrumah" for Ghana.

Commenting on the government's free SHS policy on Peace FM’s "Kokrokoo" program , the seasoned journalist was pleased with the work done by the President and his government in ensuring that every school child gains free education at the Senior High School level.

The Vice President of the National Graduate Teachers, Angel Carbonu, on his part criticized the new education policy saying that the government’s free secondary education policy should have targeted the deprived families and areas instead of the blanket coverage of all students in public schools adding that the policy, as currently being implemented, is unsustainable.

“The approach to offering help to less endowed people ought to have been taken differently from the one we are doing now,” he said on Eyewitness News.

In his view, students from most private basic schools, and most students entering certain schools deemed top class, did not need support from the government. With regard to the opposition National Democratic Congress the party punched holes in the policy of SHS under NPP saying that the policy would not benefit the entire students in SHS adding that the policy was just like the policy begun by the NDC to be implemented progressively.

Some members of the NDC supported the policy but others especially the minority in parliament feel that the policy is so expensive to run that it would not be sustainable. However, the government of NPP under Nana Akufo Addo said that the policy is not meant for any particular political party promising to use part of the income from oil to continue supporting SHS education in Ghana.

Since majority of the people in the country support the policy it has come to stay and cannot be booted out by any future government . We must therefore provide the support and constructive ideas and criticisms needed to get it going with the hope that the school authorities and teachers would be encouraged through good service conditions, training and retraining in the implementation processes of the policy.

Columnist: Alhaji Alhasan Abdulai
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