The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has commended the President and his government for keeping one of the New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) campaign promises of implementing Free Senior High School (SHS).The union has, therefore, assured government of its support for the Free SHS programme.
A statement signed by Dr Yaw Baah, Secretary General of TUC, described Free SHS as the most important social intervention programme that has been implemented in Ghana since independence.
“We are particularly impressed with the careful planning and rigour with which the various government ministries and agencies have gone about the implementation of the programme.
“We believe it is the most equitable way to distribute the country’s resources to all Ghanaians regardless of their socio-economic background. We agree fully with President Nana Akufo-Addo’s statement that “the cost of providing free secondary school education would be cheaper than the alternative of an uneducated and unskilled workforce,” TUC said.
According to TUC, the Free SHS programme provides immense opportunities for young people, and would increase the pool of educated young Ghanaians in the labour market.
“It will also increase the number of students seeking university education. “Harnessing these opportunities will depend on the preparations we make today.
“The challenges with job creation need to be addressed to ensure that Free SHS does not produce a pool of educated and frustrated young people. That will be costly for the country,” the union warned.
It, therefore, stated that the only way the cost of Free SHS would pay for itself will be to put beneficiary Ghanaians to productive work.
“Additionally, government should begin to think of expanding infrastructure at the country’s universities to ensure that the universities can absorb the large number of secondary school graduates in the next few years.
“Data from Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) show that only 15 percent of all Ghanaians who are 15 years or older had attained secondary education or higher,” TUC said.
The union noted that the statistics further indicate that 19.5 percent of Ghanaians have never attended school; 44.6 percent did not complete Middle School Leaving Certificate (MSLC) or Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE), and only 20.9 percent completed MSLC/BECE.
TUC observes that after 60 years of independence, these statistics are not only shameful, but they are also a barrier to sustainable and inclusive development.
Free SHS should improve access
“We expect the Free SHS programme to dramatically improve access to education in all parts of the country.”
“But we should not end there. Government should address all other related issues and ensure that quality of education improves,” TUC said.