Outgoing U.S. Ambassador, Robert P. Jackson has said he is excited about the Free Senior High School (SHS) programme introduced by the Akufo-Addo government.
The Free SHS was a flagship campaign promise by President Nana Akufo-Addo, then an opposition candidate for the New Patriotic Party (NPP).
Shortly after winning the 2016 polls, he implemented the policy, which absorbed all fees approved by the Ghana Education Service Council for first-year students in public schools.
In addition to this, the students are provided with free text books and one meal a day for day students.
Speaking about education on World Affairs on Class91.3FM on Friday, 13 July 2018, Mr Jackson endorsed the Free SHS policy and explained how the U.S. Embassy had contributed to the development of education in the country.
Mr Jackson said: “Ghana has an excellent university system, it has all the things that it needs, but that lack of resources that has prevented so many students from going to the Senior High School was a barrier to the country’s development, so, I’m excited about Free SHS”.
The American diplomat explained that: “Ghana has been successful in filling its schools but the quality of education in many schools has been poor. So, if we can get the quality right and provide a basis for those students to be better educated and be more successful in education and then in their careers, then Ghana can make that next leap that we all want to make”.
Mr Jackson said: “I hope the free SHS will be an opportunity to get more deserving students in the schools, to allow them to excel regardless of their families’ income levels”.
He noted that the U.S. Embassy has supported Ghana’s educational sector by distributing some five million books to public primary schools in 12 languages, trained 30,000 teachers, and introduced reading and phonics programme from which some 700,000 students have benefitted.
“Next year, another 400,000 will be introduced to the reading and phonics programme. At the senior high school level, our peace corps volunteers are directly engaged in teaching in senior high schools, and they are saying a lot of students struggle because they don’t have that basic reading skills, so, I’m very excited that we can create an environment in which senior high schools can perform the functions they were designed to perform; to take students from the lower levels and prepare them for tertiary education in the universities,” he noted.