I sometimes wonder whether it is our genuine ignorance that makes us unable to plan for future eventuality and to think through issues before we implement, or, it is what the Akan will call “beyie”. Literally, we want things to get worse so that we can reap personal benefit from it.

If not, what explains an opposition not seeing anything good about a government policy and will go all length to make that policy not to see the light of the day instead of critiquing the policy to fine tune it to the general good of the populace? The answer is not my concern for today. My problem is, why it is becoming difficult for us to come to consensus on the way forward for this country’s problems.

The other day, there was the news that, many candidates who sat for the 2012 WASSCE have indeed passed and hence satisfied the criteria for admission for courses in one university that administrators were at fix of what to do. And the horror of this situation is that, our leaders seem to have been praying that our young ones will continue to fail their entrance examination to higher learning so that they can keep the status quo. They will only have to sit in their offices and do nothing. Pardon me, are these not as we say in our local parlance, witches – enemies of progress?

It just looks as if our politicians are up to some agreement to keep the masses down there in their ignorance. I have had a hard time to understand why a government headed by a professor will truncate the SHS four year programe for a SHS three year programe when it did not give itself the benefit to access the programe before doing any change to it. Thank God we can guess this flaw was done on us to meet a campaign promise.

In the face of some evidence that the four-year SHS progamme had churned out more passes that has overwhelmed university administrators wouldn’t it be proper if those who did the change accept they were ahead of themselves in making the change? But this does not mean that, as an educationist, I believe that increasing the number of years children stay in school is the solution to our challenges in education.

This takes me to my worry in this impending election and the promise by a political party of free SHS education. My problem is that journalists are not asking the right questions so that even all of us would know the basic challenges our educational system is facing and whether free SHS progamme will be the solution.

As a tutor in a SHS, I believe hurriedly going for Free SHS programe will compound our challenges in SHS education. Let me remind all of us that many SHS have just got out of the problem of accommodating a fourth year class of the previous SHS four year programme. I do not know whether these politicians ever visited the schools to witness the chaos they created in the schools by implementing a four year programme without providing first the infrastructure for it.

An attempt to push through this free SHS programme without putting in place the proper structures first, will create what we call a ‘CYTO’ SHS system where the rich will take their wards to private SHS to guarantee quality education for their wards. As a tutor, I can imagine being saddled with a hundred students in a class to teach. It will be tough to be effective. All I can say is, let us get the structures in place first before we think of a free SHS policy.

But this brings me to what we have done with the free basic school policy. Those in our basic schools are still paying examination fees. Some of them also are collecting PTA levies from students. There are also many of our children who have still not benefited from any basic education since we have not being able to implement the compulsory aspect of the policy.

There is also the problem of getting these children quality basic education. As an English tutor in SHS, I know that a number of those who qualify to get into the SHS are more or less illiterate. This is because, we cannot find teaching personnel to man our basic schools. My point is; are there not enough problems that we have to overcome with our basic education before going to worry ourselves with issues of our SHS.

Perhaps if we do our homework well with Basic education, we will have all our children qualifying by merit to pursue SHS education. Then, we will have a reason to expand facilities in our SHS to accommodate qualified candidates as we do now have with the success rate of SHS candidates passing for university education. Wouldn’t that be better than promising whole class promotion to SHS, putting them into old structures to seek their own fate and releasing them on the street with nothing to show for a SHS education?

I think if the free SHS policy proposed by a party is to just win political authority, then it is a bad joke and a short-sighted one.

P.K. Zowonu

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