Ghana’s free high school program takes off
Ghana on Monday rolled out it’s free senior high school (SHS) policy in public schools across the West African nation with over 400,000 students expected to benefit.
The policy which was a campaign message for the current president, Nana Akufo Addo during Ghana’s presidential elections in 2016 will cost the government over $90 million yearly with that figure expected to go up should the number of students admitted into the schools increase.
The government has promised to fund the policy solely without external support with indications that the country’s oil production revenue could be a major source in the coming years.
Ghana’s President, Akufo Addo said “By free SHS we mean that in addition to tuition which is already free, there will be no admission fee, no library fee, no science centre fee, no computer lab fee, no examination fee, and no utility fee; there will be free text books, free boarding and free meals, and day students will get a meal at school for free.”
“It is time to take a bold move that will enable us to make rapid progress to transform our economy and the lives of Ghanaians,” Akufo Addo said in defending the policy.
Critics of the government have said that the promise of free senior high school for students has not been entirely achieved since not all students in senior high schools are benefiting from the policy this month. Only first year students are due to benefit once they are admitted into any of the public schools in the country.
President Akufo Addo in his 2016 manifesto said his government will “redefine basic education to include Senior High School (SHS), covering vocational, agricultural and technical schools, and make it available for free on a universal basis to all Ghanaians.”
A vocal social commentator and journalist in Ghana, Kwesi Pratt Jnr told local media “What the NPP (the ruling party) promised was free education for all students of the senior high school not the 1st year and not the second years but all students of the senior high school. It is possible that this is the beginning and that subsequently, second years and third years will be added on. But as at now the promise of making education free for all students of senior high school has not been achieved.”
So far, a total of 267,327 basic school students have been placed in schools out of the total of 424,092 who qualified.
The policy is being monitored closely by education stakeholders in Ghana with the hope that quality of teaching and learning is not compromised.