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Opinions of Monday, 21 September 2015

Columnist: Aliu, Zuberu

Mahama’s ‘Sankofa’ Free SHS; A Confusion Or Contradiction?

It is said that education is the spine of every nation. Everything is at perfection if a country’s education model is right. Undoubtedly, the situation in Ghana is a case of despondency.

Education in Ghana is reduced to a gamble patronised by the political class. It set the agenda for political parties in the 2012 general elections. Whilst the New Patriotic Party believed that free senior high school education was attainable in Ghana, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) thought otherwise. A number of media campaigns and outreach programmes were organized to shoot down the NPP’s mantra of free SHS education.
Just two years after president Mahama’s victory in the 2012 election, free SHS education was now possible in Ghana. The president categorically stated his intent to implement free SHS in the 2015/2016 academic year. Is this confusion or a contradiction?
Many people belief that it’s only a fool who doesn’t change his or her mind and this may not be different from policies of governments. However, as much as president Mahama believed that free SHS education would compromised on quality and promised to deliver quality education to Ghanaians, implementing the so-called free SHS education could be a sign of confusion or contradiction.

The truth is that social intervention policies in the education sector are good so long as they will help improve on quality. Sadly, fear has gripped many Ghanaians since the president announced the take off of his ‘sankofa’ free SHS education. This is because nothing has been done to demonstrate that quality in the education sector will improve.

This is not to say that the Mahama led administration has not done any good job in education. At least, one of the 200 new senior high schools promised has been inaugurated. But government appointees and communicators must give the people of Ghana some space to breath. It’s never a favor if Government of Ghana constructs schools.

Nobody in Ghana is against free SHS as long as it would be implemented not as a vote buying policy. What people are afraid of is that the policy is geared towards winning election 2016. Professionals in the sector are afraid to talk for the fear of losing their jobs. But they are well aware of the dangers of this policy. At least, the call by GNAT for government to suspend the implementation of the free SHS policy should have been heeded.
What is paramount to Ghanaian parents is how to improve on the dwindling quality of education. Why are the BECE and WASSCE registering massive examination malpractices in recent time? Why is it that a good number of students are in senior high school but can’t read? These are some questions begging for answers. Good answers to these questions will lead the search for a panacea to Ghana’s paralysed education system. Good school infrastructure and subsidized school fees are welcome, but that can never be the much needed solution to safe education in Ghana from collapse.

Zuberu Aliu