The General Secretary of the Young Cadres Association (YCA), a pro National Democratic Congress (NDC) group in the Central Region, Mr. Bright Botchway has called on authorities who are spearheading the implementation of the Free SHS policy to reconsider the challenges students and parents are facing to improve the program.
The Free SHS program was officially launched by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Tuesday September 12, 2017, to enroll over 400,000 first year students for the 2017/2018 academic year.
The implementation of the controversial policy was characterized by some challenges such as inadequate dormitories, dining halls, classrooms and alleged unapproved fees been charged by some heads of the schools from parents since it started.
Speaking to the media, Mr. Botchway, said he is not against the Free SHS education program but the implications it may subject the country to must be avoided.
He also expressed worry over the lack of accommodation for some beneficiaries of the Free SHS education program.
According to him, female students who have rented hostels and houses stand a high risk of getting pregnant since they will not be under the guidance of school authorities.
He explained further that since there is going to be lack of supervision of the male students living outside the schools, it is possible for those students to involve themselves in drug abuse (wee smoking).
"There is the possibility of about increase in drug abuse too among the males for no one cares about the movement of these innocent young ones all in the name of 'Free SHS' program, he lamented.
Mr. Botchway further explained that, due to undue pressure on government they have adopted a new strategy where majority of the students will be 'Day Students' to cut down their expenditure.
He added, "Now Hostels have become the order of the day and the way and manner parents are following this 'free' thing and risking the future of their wards to this open world at this early stages of their lives is devastating".
"A student who lives in Cape Coast in the Central Region got a Senior High School in the Northern and she has been made a Day Student, how can this be possible, now the parents have to go and look for a room and rent for this thirteen (13) years girl to live alone far away from home, all in the name of free SHS. Is she going to school or she is going to live her live at that tender age?” he asked.
"The difference between Boarding house and community Hostels is the in and out of the students in Boarding house as well as their entire well-being is the responsibility of the school authorities. With the hostel system the student mostly lives outside the school premises, feeds him/ herself and are not controlled by any one, this exposes these innocent students to all the predators in world and mostly landed them into heavy troubles that can affect negatively in their entire life," he lamented.