A former Deputy Minister of Education, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, has said the massive improvement in educational infrastructure by the previous NDC government, will facilitate the new government’s plan to roll out the free Senior High School (SHS) programme.
According to him, the Mahama administration invested millions of dollars in expanding infrastructure in the education sector, paving the way for the current government to implement the policy.
“Now with President Mahama’s community based schools and with the Secondary education programme, which the World Bank supported with 156 million dollars, a very solid foundation has been laid for a take-off. Article 25 says secondary education should be progressively free, and that is what we implemented. We were only satisfying what the constitution says because the framers of the constitution were aware of the challenges confronting secondary education.”
Gov’t must focus on quality
The North Tongu legislator advised government to also focus on quality education, saying, “at the end of the day, if it is all about taking everybody to school but we do not have quality education then there is nothing more dangerous than a poorly educated citizenry. You certainly will be creating a nightmare and a danger for the future of your country.”
“Now looking at all the investments that have been made, I will say that now you can begin talking about improving on the progressively free secondary education programme. However, the word of caution is that, it is important for us to see that the programme of action is on quality, because they must not abandon President Mahama’s quality and access initiatives as we introduce Free SHS . If we do that, then we run the risk of destroying secondary education because public secondary schools do better. Your Grade A schools do better, so it is important that we maintain this tradition. We should be guided by how public basic education slipped.”
GNAT welcomes free SHS
Meanwhile the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), has asked government to ensure the timely release of funds for the implementation.
Speaking to Citi News, the General Secretary of (GNAT), David Ofori Acheampong, while endorsing the initiative, said government must ensure that there is a reliable source of funding for the programme.
“We have to look at the budget. Look at what budget we have to bear as a nation to carry that programme through and clear source of funding for that project. The policy should address timeous release of resources because if we are not going to commit parents to any of the monies that they have paid over the years and government is going to take that responsibility then there must be timeous release of resources.”
Free SHS to begin in September
President Akufo-Addo has assured that his government will fully implement the free SHS policy from September 2017.
The policy is expected to ensure that Ghanaians who qualify for SHS are not burdened with financial difficulties.
“By free SHS, we mean that, in addition to tuition which is already free, there will be no admission fees, no library fees, no science centre fees, no computer lab fees, no examination fees, no utility fees; there will be free textbooks, free boarding and free meals, and day students will get a meal at school for free,” the president clarified.
By: Marian Ansah/citifmonline.com/Ghana