The Ministry of Education says all is set for the government to roll out a full stream free senior high school (SHS) for the 2019/2020 academic year, which begins this September.
The Deputy Minister of Education in charge of General Education, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, in an interview, said 470,000 first year students would be expected to enrol in all public schools under the Free SHS this year.
That, he said, would bring the total number of students in public SHSs to about 1.2 million nationwide.
Dr Adutwum said the academic year would have Forms One to Three all under the Free SHS programme and they would, therefore, be fed and provided with free textbooks, exercise books, school uniforms and tuition.
Dr Adutwum said the government had budgeted for the figure and, therefore, funds, as well as the needed textbooks and other logistics, were available to ensure a smooth take off of the academic year.
Asked of the readiness, Dr Adutwum said the government was strategic by securitising the Ghana Education Trust fund (GETfund) to cater for the infrastructure development of schools, thus allowing government to focus on the real needs of the students.
On the issue of double track system, he explained that some of the SHSs had had an upgrade of their infrastructure needs and might be moved out of the double track, adding that the phase out of the double track would be based on individual schools and not a wholesale issue.
Dr Adutwum was excited that beginning September, over 1.2 million children would gain admission to access secondary education, adding that in 20 years’ time, the level of critical thinking in the country would be high.
“From then, we will now begin to see the level of improvement of your health indicators,” Dr Adutwum said, adding that a research had shown that a secondary educated mother did certain things very well.
He said, for instance, that even though the illiterate mothers were also able to do certain things right, “but there are things that come to the educated ones with ease.”
He was of the belief that with high number of educated mothers, the maternal mortality could potentially go down because they understood certain basic things, adding that it had been proved that secondary education improved health indicators.
“Beyond that, secondary education will offer us the opportunity to build a bridge to tertiary which will tie in with our gross tertiary enrolment ratio,” he explained.
Gross tertiary indicator
Dr Adutwum said that was a very critical indicator of the transformation of a country, citing, for instance, that currently Ghana had a gross tertiary enrolment of 16.19 per cent, while South Korea had 93 per cent and US 85 per cent.
He explained that even though the Africa average gross enrolment was seven per cent, “sometimes, we are caught up in what I call the Africa mediocrity because we feel that 16.19 per cent is a great achievement.”
He said looking at the 2018 World Bank human capital index, Ghana was second in Africa next to Rwanda, “but we were 72nd in the world. So do you want your people just to compete like any other in the world, or you want to be the best in Africa?”