A beneficiary of the Free SHS policy has alleged that some past questions and textbooks provided by government to facilitate learning were full of errors.

The graduate, Ruby Charlene Opoku, disclosed the learning challenges faced by students during a forum organised by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ).

Delivering an opening address at the 10th Leadership Dialogue Series on Thursday, April 28, she said the challenges that blemished government’s flagship education policy were easy to detect.

She disclosed that contrary to the impression that the government provided all textbooks, the government only offered textbooks for the core subjects.

“For students who could not buy these elective textbooks, it became a bit worrisome. They always had to depend on their mates who were always fortunate or wait to inherit the textbooks [for the elective subjects] from their seniors.

“There was also the issue where most of these textbooks provided contained erroneous information, especially the past questions that they provided. So, as a result, most of the answers were wrong.

“It is not like we look at the answers because we are lazy, but sometimes when we want to do self-evaluation, and we are trying to see the correct answers, most of these [answers] the past questions provided were wrong. Unless you have other textbooks to crosscheck,” she claimed.

Over one million past questions and answer booklets were purchased in 2020 to prepare the final-year high school students for the 2021 West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).

The government said it spent a total of ¢68.5 million to procure the past questions and answer booklets.

However, the cost and rationale for purchasing the past questions were heavily criticised by the Minority in Parliament at the time.

Recounting her Free SHS experience, Ruby also stated that the limited contact hours under the semester system affected learning.

“When we went to school, we had the three terms, and we had more contact hours; the teachers could take their time to take us through the subjects, and understanding was there. But with the introduction of the semester system, there were limited contact hours, and there were more vacations. So, if you go on vacation, you have to make sure that you learn or try to develop your study habits,” she said.

With the vacation classes, too, she said her experience was that there was no organised structure for topic selection.

According to her, topics are treated based on what most students decide should be treated.

“For instance, if more students have just started learning Surds [in Mathematics] before the vacation, that is what will be treated.”

Ruby Charlene Opoku mentioned these experiences to highlight the setbacks to the effectiveness of the free SHS.

The Keynote Speaker at the virtual forum was former Vice-Chancellor of the Unversity of Ghana, Prof Ernest Aryeetey, who said, among other things, that the free SHS policy will worsen the quality of secondary education in Ghana.

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