A report released by the African Education Watch (EduWatch) has revealed that despite the implementation of government’s Free Senior High School (Free SHS) policy, some students who gained admission to the SHSs in 2022 could not afford the cost of items enlisted in their prospectus.
Consequently, these students could not honour their admission.
The report titled “The Financial Burden of The Free SHS Policy and Implications for Equitable Access to Education” also indicated that although the policy was aimed at relieving parents off the financial burden of their wards going to SHS, parents and guardians even now spend more to afford their wards’ education.
According to the report, while government spent averagely GHC 1,147 and GHC 1,107 on boarding and day students respectively in the year under review, parents and guardians spent averagely GHC 2,447 and 4,000 on personal effects for boarding students.
The Senior Progammes Officer, Divine Kpeh, of the EduWatch has therefore recommended that the Finance Ministry ensures a timely disbursement of funds to the Ghana Education Service in order to cover in time the expenses of the schools.
The government’s free SHS policy has become a subject for discussion at least for the past two years. While some have touted it as a great policy, others including some experts believe the initiative has reduced the quality of education in the country.
Last year, a ranking member of parliament’s education committee, disclosed that a number of lecturers have complained to him about the caliber of students pouring into the universities from the SHSs. According to them, these students produced by the free SHS policy are finding it difficult to cope academically in the universities.
The discussions also generated another contention that these students ought to be taken through an entrance exam, a gateway to the tertiary institutions.
Following these developments, a review of the policy was suggested to government so as to address the issues.
Apart from the issue of quality and parents having to pay more than before, there has been the issue of students being poorly fed under the policy.
The School Feeding Programme which was to complement the execution of the Free SHS policy, saw caterers threaten to go on strike over issues of poor remunerations. Students themselves lamented the degenerated state of foods cooked for them to eat.