Free SHS, Why I care?

Free SHS, Why I care?
Source: Ghana | Juliet Ohemeng-Ntiamoah |
Date: 14-09-2017 Time: 11:09:44:am
SHS students in Ghana

Aside from my own struggle getting funding for both secondary and tertiary school, let me tell you a story.

Occasionally when I go to my village, I spend time encouraging the youth, especially the girls to take their education seriously and aim high. A lot of those girls have boyfriends who buy them "chibom" (fried eggs) in the evening and that was enough to make them give those boys, their all.

Sad right?

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I used to give my unsolicited advice to those girls to leave their boyfriends and rather focus on their studies. I must say village girls have this attitude, sometimes they think too "far".

Some felt I was asking them to leave their boyfriends because I lacked one. LOL. But there were some who took all my words as the gospel fact of life. A lady called Catherine was one of the few disciplines I reared.

She finished junior high school (JHS) in 2013 and the first of four children. Her mum, Awonye (how young Krobo women are addressed) sells kenkey with daily sales not exceeding ¢10. In fact, sometimes people credit some of the kenkey. Awonye was also staying in my mother's house as a caretaker because she couldn't afford to rent her own place.

Catherine wanted to benefit from the free senior high school (SHS) education policy first promised during 2012 elections, but she was not eligible to vote at that time because she was not qualified. But her mum was likely to vote for the then governing National Democratic Congress (NDC).

My mum and I decided to talk to Awonye to vote for the then New Patriotic Party (NPP) just because of her daughter.

My mum even ‘threatened’ she would eject her if she didn't vote for free SHS (off course it was an empty threat).

After the 2012 elections, Catherine told us that her mum voted for NDC.

My mum and I confronted Awonye (yes, we're like that) and we were taken aback by the reasons she proffered.

SHE SAID SHE DIDN'T LIKE NANA ADDO BECAUSE THEY SAY HE SAID KROBOS ARE PROSTITUTES AND THAT HE WAS GOING TO BUILD A HUGE HOTEL IN SOMANYA TO AID KROBOS IN THEIR PROSTITUTION BUSINESS.

Yesu! You can scream wherever you are too.

Fast forward, Catherine passed her exam in 2013 and gained admission to the secondary school, but there was no money.

She came to Accra to work for someone for a year with the intention of saving some money to go to school. She was cheated and ended up not receiving what was due her.

She went back to the village and went through the same ordeal the following year. All this while, I had been encouraging her to keep the dream alive and that when the time is ripe, her light will shine.

Thankfully and by God's grace, I extended a helping hand and in 2015, we took Catherine to school.

She'll be finishing next year.

It has not been easy. It has been an uphill task for which reason I sometimes ask myself whether I had bitten more than I could chew.

There are reports of other girls who need similar help but because of personal and family responsibilities, I am not in the position to honour that.

So when some of us see the need for free SHS, we really know what we're talking about.

There are a lot of people out there for whom this policy will change their lives and that of future generations forever.

Selah!
Juliet Ohemeng-Ntiamoah.

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