The announcement by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo that beginning September this year, all Ghanaian students, who will be admitted into the various public Senior High School (SHS) will not pay fees, must be a welcome news to many parents and students.
The President by the announcement has fulfilled a major promise made to Ghanaians during the electioneering campaign.
The President, then candidate Nana Akuffo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) promised that when elected to office, the NPP government would implement a comprehensive free SHS education policy.
Fortunately, the NPP has been elected and true to the promise, the policy will be rolled out, come September, 2017.
Many Ghanaians, especially parents and students, will be looking forward to the implementation of the policy because the burden of funding education has been taken over by the government.
Although, the President made it crystally clear that the government will fund the cost of public SHS education and spelt out the specific items that will be paid for by the government, parents may be called upon to pay for other items that are not on the list.
For the avoidance of doubt, the President said: “by free SHS, we mean that in the addition to tuition, there will be no admission fees, no library fees, no science resource centre fees, no computer lab fees, no examination fees, and no utility fees.”
This is undoubtedly, a policy initiative that is going to support all SHS students, who are gaining admissions for the first time in September.
Apart from the financial burden that has been lifted off parents, there shall be no excuse for any parent not to send his or her child to school.
It will also be untenable for any teacher or headmistress to turn away any child for non-payment of schools fees.
While we applaud the government for this bold initiative, we wish to remind it that the policy is going to increase intake in schools and space will become a major challenge for existing schools.
The Times is, therefore, of the view that government must build more schools across the country, to accommodate the increase number of students entering SHS.
We are aware that the previous government began a Community Day Secondary School project, aimed at building some 200 schools. Even though the previous government might not have completed the entire 200 schools, it will be prudent for the current government to complete them and even add more.
The government may have good intentions in implementing the free SHS policy, but lack of schools and facilities may work against the success of the policy.
We hope that government will take the necessary steps to ensure that the free SHS policy succeeds.