The government will continue to provide funding for the free senior high school (SHS) policy, irrespective of the cost, the Director General of the Ghana Education Service (GES), Professor Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa, has said. However, he said, although the government was committed to financing the programme, which was rolled out in 2017, it remained the collective duty of the citizenry to ensure its sustainability.
“It is our ship and we must find a way to make it work together because if it sinks or stays afloat, we are in it together,” he said at the Graphic Business/Stanbic Bank Breakfast Forum in Accra Monday.
The breakfast forum, held on the theme: “Financing Free Quality Education in Ghana - Sustainable Funding Options”, brought together stakeholders in the educational sector to deliberate on sustainable funding options available to the government in providing free quality education for the public.
Addressing an enthusiastic gathering, Prof. Opoku-Amankwa said the provision of free education by the government, aside from being a necessity, was enshrined in the 1992 Constitution and must be made a priority.
He said Article 25 (1) of the 1992 Constitution says: “All persons shall have the right to equal educational opportunities and facilities.”
Article 25 (1) (b) also says that “secondary education, in all its different forms, including technical and vocational education, shall be made generally available and accessible to all by every appropriate means, and in particular by progressive introduction of free education”.
Apart from the 1992 Constitution, Prof. Opoku-Amankwa said, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) also required inclusive and equitable quality education and the promotion of life-long opportunities for all.
Many left behind
Prior to the implementation of the free SHS policy, Prof. Opoku-Amankwa said, the educational system in the country had deprived many, especially the poor, from accessing quality education.
As a result, he said, despite the cost burden of running the free SHS programme, the government would ensure the success of the programme by absorbing the cost, since the initiative or policy would indiscriminately provide access to quality education for all.
“We have run a system that has left many people out there to survive and they find a way of surviving that threatens our survival. So we need to make a conscious effort to ensure that whatever system that we put in place works and works well,” he said.
He said the government would remain committed to the major component of the free SHS programme: the absorption of all fees approved by the Ghana Education Council, including parent-teacher association (PTA) fees.
“The PTAs and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are all stakeholders in education and we always encourage and want them to contribute, but the idea behind their contribution is to support what the government is doing.
“It is the government’s responsibility to ensure that basic education and the free SHS that has been introduced work,” he added.