Former Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Emeritus Professor Ivan Addae- Mensah has called for a review of the Free Senior High School program, stating that it lacks sustainable funding given the current state of the economy.
He says, “reviewing or re- examining is not the same as abolishing”, emphasizing the need for the President to be open to scrutiny and broader consultations on such a matter, as the youth’s future cannot be jeopardized.
The Free Education Policy was introduced in 2017 under government’s education flagship project to ensure that Ghanaian students, irrespective of background gain free access to secondary education where students receive free tuition, accommodation and feeding.
Speaking at the Ghana Academy of Arts and Science Founders Week Celebration 2022, themed “Education and Reforms in Ghana and Their Impact on the Youth”, Emeritus Professor Addae- Mensah, indicated that the scheme was doomed to fail because it was inadequately drafted by the government before being implemented.
“In Principle, no Ghanaian will say that Free Education up to the Secondary level is a bad thing. If the policy maker rushes into the policy without making thorough examination of the ramifications, the outcome may turn out to be disastrous. I had the privileged in 2012 to discuss with the President, issues of Free SHS, which were unfortunately ignored in the implementation of the policy, all the issues I raised are what we see bedeviling the entire program and on the basis of which many well-meaning Ghanaians have been calling for a review of the program”
He explained that the Free SHS policy as it stands breaks the balance of equity in society, since it poses a greater advantage to the rich against the poor.
“If you are in a society in which the gap between the higher and the lower income is very wide, and you offer free education to everybody, irrespective of their ability to pay, it normally works to the disadvantage of the poor and rather than achieve equity, you end up widening the gap between the rich and the poor”
Emeritus Professor Addae- Mensah believes that the scheme has “the potential effect of the expected large increase in enrolment”. According to him, due to the great access Free Education gives, enrolment in schools will be increased, resulting a in lowering of academic standards.
“If there’s blanket provision of free education for everybody and there is resultant increase in enrolment, there is the likelihood of population explosion which if not properly handled can result in significant lowering of standards due to inadequate facilities, teachers and poor teacher motivation and effective pedagogy”.
Story Written By: Afua Adwubi Wiafe Akenteng