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Opinions of Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Columnist: Michael Maclean Botwe

Free SHS and its ramifications

The Free SHS policy was introduced in September this year The Free SHS policy was introduced in September this year

I thank God for the 'Free SHS' policy formulation and its implementation. The truth ought to be told with the issues emanating from the "Free SHS" policy and its implementation in Ghana. Yes, the "Free SHS is a very laudable and a superb move by the current government, but it was hastened and haphazardly implemented. I am not,and i shall never be against the policy initiated by the the current government.

The first term is almost coming to an end, yet there are congestion of poor situations in some schools. I have consummately acknowledged, that 'Rome' was never built in a day. The other side of the policy has not been looked at critically, because others have exerted pressure on the government to fast track the policy implementation for their selfish and parochial interest.

Mr President, you have four years to rule Ghana, which has given you the ample power to implement your good policies and programmes you've promised,for the benefit of even the ordinary citizens.Take your time, because others will present academic papers to you on your policies for which,they may end up to sully or dent your governance.

The following are what culminate some negative fallouts of the 'Free SHS' policy so far.
First and foremost, the lack of accommodation to shelter the students in some schools. In some schools, students were posted from afar, and accommodation on campus was full up to capacity. Some of these students have to fight and get accommodation in towns where there shall be no control. What happens is, that immorality will be creeping into the lives of the majority of these young ones.

Also, once they don't have accommodation on campus, their security is at risk. Who secures them, should anyone of them fall ill or is going to be harassed? These are lives and assets to be protected as future leaders.
Furthering that, the lack of infrastructure to accommodate the students for teaching and learning. Some schools operate under poor conditions of teaching and learning.

There are no desk and they have resorted to the use of cement blocks mounded as chairs, and others using plywoods on their thighs as tables to write on. Those using that may end up having challenges with their spinal cords.
In addition, decent canteens now on football pitches. Food is served occasionally on the bare grounds for students to eat. This is not fair and it is so much appalling.

Besides, on campus accommodation is very devastating. Some students now sleep in dinning halls and others outside on a bare floor with their mattresses. Mosquitoes are biting others under such deplorable conditions all in the name of hastened 'Free SHS' implementation. Let us not forget malaria as a killer disease under such inhumane conditions.

In a nutshell, a head of La Presby Senior has reprimanded for calling on parents to support. Mr President, the Free SHS policy will be marginalised without PTA supports. In order to flashback, in the 2018 budget, the finance minister made mention of people and organisations to donate in supporting the policy. He talked about "Voluntary Fund for free SHS. Such a fund is needless and must not be entertained. Who are those going to be the signatories and how are they going to account for the money accrued? I don't trust at all. That is clear indication, that there is conflict of interest in reprimanding the La Headmaster and indeed, the policy must be critically looked at again.

However, what are the preparations towards the second term in 2018?
Mr President, don't give heed to any selfish educationists on their fake proposals. The 'Free SHS must be taken care of well with the devoid of partisan politics.

The partisan politics will cripple and collapse every bit and initiative of the policy.

We are all citizens of Ghana and for that matter, let us all endeavour to come on board and make this policy and paramount one. It's for Ghanaians, and all have a good role to play.

Let us do away with the partisan politics of our educational system in Ghana.

May God bless Free SHS.