LET’S MAKE THE FREE SHS POLICY WORK

Following the Minister of Education, Dr Mathew Opoku Prempah’s reaffirmation that the free Senior High School (SHS) policy will take off at the beginning of 2017/18 academic year, a debate has ignited over the announcement.

While majority of Ghanaians are of the opinion that free SHS is a laudable policy initiative, there are still doubting Thomases who do not believe that the policy is sustainable.

Many others also believe that the decision to introduce a cut-off point and exclude unqualified students may work against the vast majority of students in deprived schools.

But whatever is the case, the policy is to be introduced beginning 2017/18 academic year and according to the Education Minister, the government was aware of the challenges that would accompany the implementation of the policy and was taking measure to address them.

As part of the measures, he said, the government would upgrade 42 SHSs into model schools, continue with ongoing projects and construct new schools where necessary.

Indeed, the concern of some Ghanaians is that many deprived schools across the country would be made worse off with the introductions of free SHS and the conditions attached to it.

Those who hold this view argue that deprived schools would not attract qualified students and only the endowed ones would continue to attract qualified students.

According to them government may have to initiate policies to upgrade their schools to appreciable standards to attract good students.

Whatever the case may be, the Ghanaian Times is of the view that the free SHS policy must be supported by all Ghanaians and make it work.

This is a new policy that the government is rolling out and there might be teething problems at the beginning, but the problems can be corrected as we move along.

Already major stakeholders in the education sector, including the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) have embraced the policy and indicated their resolve to support it.

It is, therefore, prudent for all to contribute to ensuring that the free SHS succeeds.

Our concern however is the resources to sustain the programme. But we are assured that the government has promised to ensure that resources are made available to make it sustainable.

We admit that not all the challenges facing SHS education can be resolved at a go. We must all therefore support the fee free SHS and resolve any challenges as we progress.

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