General News of Thursday, 9 March 2017
The Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast is predicting doom for the yet to be rolled out free Senior High School Education if government does not take steps to ensure quality.
Prof. George Kwaku Oduro says the current situation at the Senior High Schools is nothing to write home about and that is likely to be compounded with a free SHS policy.
"You get to so many schools, particularly those in disadvantaged context their labs are empty, they don't have libraries. So if access is given through free SHS and these schools remain with empty labs and empty libraries then it compromises quality," he argued.
His comments come shortly after the Nana Akufo-Addo administration announced its intention to implement the free SHS education policy in September this year.
The policy has been a subject of vehement political debate since 2008 with questions being raised about how government intends to fund the project.
The Finance Minister Ken Ofori Atta with the clearest assurance in his budget statement said the government will fund the policy with the Annual Budgetary funds and other funds available to the government.
That appears not to have settled the debate, with others critics, including educationists questioning how the policy will be implemented.
The Pro Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast who is also the former director of the Institute of Educational Planning and Administration believes implementation of the policy stands the risk of satisfying just a political campaign mantra but with dire consequences to the sector if due diligence is not followed.
"If that is not done we will get to situations where headmasters and mistresses will face very big challenge particularly where there is delay in remitting schools with monies they will need to operate within the context of Free SHS," Prof. George Kwaku Oduro said.
He cited the instance in the Northern Region where schools had to shut down because of delays in the payment of feeding fees.
But in a reaction, the Education Minister Mathew Opoku Prempeh said the criticism by the Pro- Vice Chancellor is without basis.
He found it hypocritical that the Pro-Vice-Chancellor will be criticising a policy which he said was implemented 50 years back which people benefitted from.
"Where was the Pro-Vost when free SHS started some 50 years ago in this country? Has he ever advised that those part of the country enjoying free SHS should be stopped?
"I find it hypocritical that some people are enjoying free SHS even though it is with constraints and when a government is taking a bold step to remove that financial barrier a provost will say some people should wallow in ignorance.
He said there has been a thorough discussion right from 2008 and believes the time is ripe for the policy to be executed.