Free SHS and Double Track System is vital – Professor Adei

By
Mildred Siabi-Mensah, GNA

Effia (W/R), Sept. 14, GNA – Professor Stephen
Adei, former Rector of Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration
(GIMPA), has said the double track system is very important and there is the
need for every child to remain in school.

He said every Ghanaian child must at least be
educated to about age 17 or 18 before proceeding on a future course.

Professor Adei was speaking at the first
Convocation Lecture of the Takoradi Technical University held under the theme:
“Enhancing the Development of Ghana through TVET, the Role of Technical
University”.

“Free SHS” is here to stay and should not be
an issue for debate. The issues to be discussed should rather be how to
increase facilities and improving quality. That will require building more
small sized community SHS with facilities to accommodate teachers and
laboratories.

Professor Adei said Ghana has experimented
free education in the three northern regions for six decades and the outcome
had been positive with virtually all the educated older northerners benefiting
from free education.

“My elder brother had to go to Tamasco
because we could not afford secondary education as peasant farmers which denied
all the next three Adeis secondary education…All the arguments against free SHS
and the double track system are without merit”, he said.

Professor Adei said “some say, let’s wait till
more buildings are put up. Turn it around and they mean let other people’s
offspring not go to school till you have space for them adding the double track
system is the answer to the infrastructure constraint an interim.

“I even have heard that free SHS now and
the need for the double track will dilute the quality of SHS. Turn that around
and it means let my children go to Wey Gey Hey and Mfantsipim to become
lawyers, doctors, engineers, politicians and leave the masses as semi-literates
to serve them”.

“If you let them join my kids the quality
will be lower than what I am used to. If it will be diluted let it be so for
all. At least it will put pressure on the elite politicians to improve general
education. And if they opt out for expensive private schools at least they pay
for it and leave room for others.”

Professor Adei said the fact that quality
should be addressed was undeniable but not at the expense of access for others
adding, I think that properly implemented, the double track system would
address both access and quality.

He said the double track would reduce class
sizes, improve teacher-student ratio and contact hours.

Professor Adei expressed the belief that that
quality of education at all levels hinges on teacher commitment, supervision
and management and not because there were two tracks.

He said students finishing the first track
could engage themselves in skills acquisition on their long vacation as
apprenticeship and vocational training was also key to personal and financial
empowerment.

Professor Adei said Ghana needed to improve on
the quality of basic and SHS education through decentralization of management,
empowering Heads and Boards to supervise the schools including hiring and
firing of poor performing teachers in addition to the provision of adequate
teaching and learning materials, as well as adopting ICT mediation in educating
kids.

“Universal quality general education that
assures competencies in language of instruction and mathematics preferably to
the SHS level is the tonic of national and quality TVET that enhances the
development of every economy.

Students have to acquire the overall and
quantitative competencies to benefit from professional, technical and
vocational education”.

Professor Adei said countries such as Germany,
Switzerland, Austria and Netherlands 
where TVET is central to their educational structure, the provision of
technical and vocational education comes after the young folks have gone
through basic literacy and achieved a higher standard of mathematics usually
till age 16.

“Some also say we do not have the resources to
educate everyone! A cynical answer would have been let other kids go to school
while yours await the improvement of national coffers. My serious answer is
that I think if there is one thing that deserves prior funding it is education
for individual, family and national development. 

In any case the amount of money stolen by
politicians and bureaucrats, estimates at least $3billion per annum by the
World Bank and Imani would more than fund quality education. “I do, however,
think that the rich could have been made to pay for their kids’ education
through creative ways as it is difficult to means test incomes except for the
few formal employees in Ghana.

One way to get the rich to pay is to designate
some schools and places as fee paying schools up to 50% of the places. So those
who want their kids to go to some grade A schools would pay for that while
reserving half places for the poor and use the fees to upgrade the other
schools.”

Professor Adei said investment in TVET is
crucial and ”we must get our acts together do better with TVET rather than
continuing to expand places to produce so called Marketing, HRM, Psychology,
History, Political Science etc. graduates to join the unemployed queue”.

GNA

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