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General News of Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Source: Myjoyonline.com

Free SHS was rushed - UCC Provost

The Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast says the Free Senior High School programme rolled out last year is facing challenges because its implementation was rushed.

Prof. George K. T. Oduro suggests had the secondary level education policy been thought through its implementation would have been smooth.

"Credible as the policy is, the rush with which the Ministry of Education commenced the implementation of the programme and the degree of threats and tagging that characterised contrasting opinions, tended to stifle constructive implementation ideas,” he said.

He made the comments at the 5th quadrennial National Delegates’ Conference of the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) held at the University of Cape Coast on January 5, 2018.

"I remember my own experience when in a speech I suggested that the idea is good but let us not rush in implementing it, let’s take the first year to sensitise people, engage stakeholders so that everyone will know what really is involved in the Free SHS to avoid the situation where parents will say that it is free so we don’t have any commitment to it and I received my part of the bashing,” he said.

He said the result of the “hostile reaction” that was associated with the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP)’s flagship education policy is the current challenges the programme is facing.

These challenges include over-crowded dormitories and classrooms, lack of adequate learning materials among others.

Enrolment in secondary schools across the country has increased many folds amidst the inadequate resources.

At least 400, 000 Junior High School graduates are benefitting from the policy this year.

Government hopes to create a more literate society and to make education easily accessible to all.

Under the new policy, there is free tuition, “no admission fees, no library fees, no science centre fees, no computer lab fees, no examination fees, no utility fees; there will be free textbooks, free boarding and free meals, and day students will get a meal at school for free,” President Nana Akufo-Addo explained.

“We are now grappling with equity-related challenges, most of which could have been avoided or reduced if the Free SHS implementation planning had moved beyond politics to a national discourse level and constructive opinions embraced prior to its implementation," the outspoken UCC Provost said.

He has urged the government to invest in education as plans to transform the country is hinged on quality education.

“We need as a country prioritise strategies for bridging the gap between rural less endowed school and urban endowed schools if we really want to maximize the benefits of equitable investment. We must also commit ourselves to depoliticising discourses on investment initiatives if we really desire to transform our Ghanaian society,” he said.