FREE SHS: A BLESSING OR AN ALBATROSS

JOINT SPEECH DELIVERED BY STUDENT LEADERS IN GHANA ON THE ANNIVERSARY OF THE INTERNATIONAL STUDENT DAY AND THE NATIONAL STUDENTS’ AWARDS 2018 ON THE THEME ONE YEAR OF FREE SHS IN GHANA, A BLESSING OR AN ALBATROSS.

JOINT SPEECH DELIVERED BY STUDENT LEADERS IN GHANA ON THE ANNIVERSARY OF THE INTERNATIONAL STUDENT DAY AND THE NATIONAL STUDENTS’ AWARDS 2018 ON THE THEME ONE YEAR OF FREE SHS IN GHANA, A BLESSING OR AN ALBATROSS.

Education is the bedrock for development across the globe with special emphasis on developing countries. It is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. It is therefore imperative for every country to make the relevant investments in the educational sector which will yield commensurate results in the near future. Benjamin franklin said investment in knowledge pays best interest

 

THE Millennium Development Goals Has Education Second On The List As Wanting Every Boy And Girl To Have Primary Education Available To Boys And Girls By 2015. Sadly Looking At The Statistics There Has Been A World Failure In That Regards.

In Ghana, many citizens agreed to the strong case made by the ruling government on free senior high school education in principle. The FSHS Policy Having Its focus on Accessibility, Equity and Quality.

 

ON ACCESSIBILITY

 On Accessibility, the 200 community day schools when completed will go a long way to bridge the infrastructural gap. A double track system which is targeted at providing education for all with the existing facilities irrespective of the numbers. This is a short term policy since the country envisions a redress to the infrastructural challenges within 7 years so the calendar can be stabilized. The challenge with the double track system appears to be the fact that not much stakeholder’s consultation was done and the public education was also on the low which caused many parents to despair unnecessarily.

 

ON EQUITY

On equity, there is a saying that if you are planning for a year plant rice. If you are planning for a decade plant trees but if planning for a life educate people. Through the computerized placement system and the double track system certain schools which seemed to be permissible to a few has now been made accessible to many only if you meet its criteria.

 

ON QUALITY

On quality, the government has introduced a teacher licensure policy which aim at taking the quality of teachers and the productivity which will thus have an impact on the quality of students the system churns out.

The FSHSP being a major initiative had access and funding as part of the challenges to the successful mentainace of the policy.

Undoubtedly the expenditure on the FSHSP possess a significant impact on the government and the economy. at large both its gains and its expenditure cannot be overlooked . The advent of the FSHS has provided solutions to the two aforementioned problems of the educational sector especially the second cycle level which was access  and funding.

it is safe to say that there are challenges with the fshs but is also a fact that over 100,000 more students are in schools because the flagship policy. The mantra “leaving no child behind".

 

Undoubtedly, the expenditure on Free SHS poses a significant impact on the government expenditure and the economy at large but the gains however, cannot be overlooked. The advent of Free SHS has provided to the two aforementioned problems of the educational sector especially the second cycle level, that is, access and funding. ON ACCESSIBILITY The 200 community day schools when completed will go a long way to bridge the infrastructural gap. All of these may not guarantee the requisite end results without the inclusion of the element of quality. It for this reason why we find teacher licensure policy an innovative one since it seeks to solve the problem of quality.

 

It is safe to say that there are challenges with Free SHS but it is also a fact that over 100,000 more students are in school because of the flagship policy. The mantra “leaving no child behind” is therefore a commendable one. Enrollment shot up astronomically and the country was betrayed by the infrastructural deficit, forcing it to go for a double track system which was targeted at providing education for all with the existing facilities irrespective of the numbers. This is a short term policy since the country envisions a redress to the infrastructural challenge within 7 years so that the calendar is reversed to the old system.

 

The big challenge with the double track system appears to be the fact that not a lot of stakeholder consultation was done and public education was also on the low which caused many parents to despair unnecessarily. Going forward, stakeholder consultations must be deem as prerequisite to the implementation of any such policy.

 

There has been a recent political debate on the possible review of Free SHS program with the two major political parties taking extremist positions. It must be noted that a review in line with best practices is only to unearth the flaws for corrective action to be taken where need be.  This review no matter when it happens must be treated as a technical exercise and not one subject to the whims and caprices of politicians without much knowledge and or experience in academia.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. There should be a legal framework establishing the source of funding board of trustees and all other legalities and passing it into a bill which becomes a statutory policy.

 

  1. Strengthening leadership at the base. Student leadership has proven to be useful to the progress of this country over the years. It it therefore important to inculcate the tenets and rudiments of leadership into our students at their developing ages. This can ultimately be done through a robust regional SRC structure across the country.

 

  1. Treating Education as a development issue and not a political one. Governance is a continuum’ but in our part of the world, the story is entirely different. The educational sector has suffered at the hands of ‘trigger happy’ politicians who have no respect for due process and or structure but rather toy with the future of students just like musical chairs. Our politicians have failed us in the past, one group implements A and the other as per their whims and caprices revert to B irrespective of the glaring repercussions. It is about time issues of education were left in the hands of the professionals and technical people.

 

  1. Many have questions the sustainability of the Free SHS Policy and this is primarily based on funding. Free SHS undoubtedly comes with a huge burden that ought to be borne by the state as a matter of necessity. It is therefore prudent to institute a clearly defined funding source(s) of the flagship program to ensure that it continues to exist perpetually into the foreseeable future. There are many students who have found themselves in various second cycle institutions because the biggest hindrance has been curtailed, it is for the sake of the future of such vulnerable children that we have to ensure that funding is not truncated when it matters most.

 

  1. Free SHS has come to stay. Free SHS is arguably our best shot at an equitable distribution of state resources. We owe it to ourselves, our God and our country to make sure that Free SHS does not only survive but thrive and must never be one of the many items in the political chess. We should never wake up to the news that a government assumed power, saw Free SHS as a needless venture and thus, cancelled it. We won’t smile!

 

  1. Parents, teachers, regulators and all stakeholders must play their roles in ensuring the development of the Ghanaian student. It is a civic responsibility to contribute your quota to nation building through dedicated services geared towards the holistic development of the Ghanaian child.

 

 

Signed

Executive Director (NSA Ghana): 0249774457

GRASAG President: 0208526041

Co. NUGS President: 0244199288

Co. NUGS President: 0209013583

GNUTS President: 0554472621

PUSAG President: 0242355833

Co-GUPS Chair: 0246529094

Co-GUPS Chair: 0244465595

ARSRC Coordinator: 0243543152

GARSRC Coordinator: 0244961993

CRSRC Coordinator: 0243767223

Foreign Students Asso.: 0555663597

Liberian Students Asso.: 0507278380

Nigerian Students Asso.: 0269420769

NAHSAG President: 0509712656

GNMTA President: 0205724736

TTAG: 0540552018

USAG President: 0206196956