A former Vice-Chancellor (VC) of the University of Ghana (UG), has observed that the implementation of the Free Senior High School (SHS) policy has rendered boards in public second cycle institutions useless.
Prof Ernest Ayeetey said this has become one of the major setbacks of the programme, a situation he reckoned is worsening the quality of secondary education in the country.
According to him, the Ghana Education Service (GES) and the Education Ministry have become the only decision-making bodies, without significant input from any particular school board.
He made these comments at the 10th Leadership Dialogue Series organised by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ).
“The system of governance at public schools does not provide enough incentive for the schools to want to excel…there is no public secondary school in Ghana where the school boards run the school. The school boards don’t run the school.
“They don’t take any important decisions. All the important decisions are taken by the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service,” he noted.
Another former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Prof Ivan Addae-Mensah, has said that the current nature of the Free SHS programme is a significant disservice to country’s education system.
He told JoyNews that the Free SHS policy had become a drain on the economy and is largely ineffective.
Prof Addae-Mensah revealed that in 2012 and 2016, he informed the governing party of the shortcomings of the policy.
However, his ideas were described as “incompatible with the President’s objective.”
But presently, he feels vindicated as “some of those people who thought what I was saying was too far-fetched are now the same people singing the song I have been singing.”
Although the policy consumes a considerable share of government revenue, there have been reports by analysts and graduates of crucial challenges.
There are calls for the programme to be reviewed because it is not sustainable as it has become a drain on government’s budget, more so, with the economy in crisis.
Following this, the Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah revealed that all 16 flagship programmes of the government will be reviewed to ensure their objectives are well achieved.
To remedy the deficiency, Prof Aryeetey and Prof Addae-Mensah, together with other policy analysts, have advised the government to modify the policy to let those who can afford to pay, do so.
“I believe strongly that we need to target people, and the most appropriate way is by means-testing. Means testing by the government will reduce the cost of tuition to the government, and the monies saved channeled to improving the facilities and providing quality service.
“We have to find ways of pursuing what best works in our environment. So instead of making SHSs free, why don’t we make some free and others payable. With that, parents get to make a decision based on their strengths.
“Even with the schools that are not free, scholarship opportunities could be created to allow people who are not financially strong to compete for them. That way, we can drag everyone along, poor or rich,” Prof Aryeetey advocated.
But the government insists the policy will remain the same, despite some of the challenges it has been facing since its implementation.
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