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General News of Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Source: Graphic.com.gh

Public basic school graduates to get 30% placement in elite SHSs

At least 30 per cent of placement in the elite Senior High Schools (SHSs) will be reserved solely for students from the public schools and deprived communities under the government’s Free Senior High School Policy, the Minister of Education, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, has announced.

He explained that the move was to ensure that children from those schools and communities were also given the opportunity to benefit from quality education and the use of good facilities to realise their potential.

Addressing regional and district directors of education, heads of schools, bursars and accountants from across the country at a stakeholders’ forum in Kumasi yesterday, Dr Opoku Prempeh described the decision as “social re-engineering.”

The forum discussed ways of improving education in the country.

The new policy is different from the one where senior high schools were enjoined to give opportunities to pupils living in their catchment areas.

Dr Prempeh said most of the students admitted to the 80 elite schools, out of more than 600 SHSs, were from private schools and well-to-do homes.

He added that majority of the people who were also able to give their children a head start through private basic schools, were also from the middle class or were among the elite class in the country, a situation, he said, was also good.

However, the minister was of the opinion that such privileged students had been denying brilliant, poor pupils from public schools and deprived areas the opportunity to also benefit from the teaching and learning that took place in those facilities.

Achimota example

He cited the example of Achimota School which, he said, in the past, sent their headmasters to scout for brilliant but poor children in some deprived communities and offered them opportunities in the school and said such decisions led to deprived communities producing prominent people for the country.

He quoted a portion of the Achimota School song “From Gambaga to Accra, from Wiawso to Keta, We are brothers and our mother is our school” to confirm what the school used to do.

Free SHS

Touching on the Free SHS policy which would be implemented from this September, Dr Prempeh said an Implementation Committee had commenced work for the execution of the policy, adding that the flagship education policy was just the realisation of the vision of the founding fathers of the country.

He said education held the magic wand to reduce social ills, break the cycle of poverty, help attain the industrialisation of the country, as well as most of the goals the country had set for itself.

It was for that reason,he said, that the government was ready to commit resources and supervise to ensure that at least, the Ghanaian child, irrespective of the social standing of their parents, benefited from, at least, free education.

The implementation of free SHS was just extending what some Ghanaians living in the north had been enjoying since independence, he explained

Dr Prempeh discounted claims that the free SHS would lead to the lowering of standards and contended that the free education offered in the three northern regions did not justify that claim, as it had led to the creation of presidents, great scientists, Members of Parliament and excellent public servants and international icons.