Free SHS and TVET Expenditure And Present Economic Challenges

Feature Article Free SHS and TVET Expenditure And Present  Economic Challenges
MAR 15, 2022 LISTEN

Africa has the most youthful population in the world, however, they are the most uneducated and most untrained in technical skills. The youth population in the largest economics of Africa, Nigeria and South Africa, are mostly uneducated and untrained in vocational skills. Therefore, the youths have resulted to all sorts of criminal activities.

The youths in these countries are become scammers, bandits, kidnappers, armed robbers, ritual killers, political propagandists and “macho boys” for adventurous politicians. If these scenario continues the Black Continent will become the most dangerous and chaotic place on the surface of the earth.

Presently the governments of Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo is spending billions of money to avert such a situation in Ghana by providing free Seniour High School (SHS) and free Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) education for the youth. This has plunged the government into high debts in view of global economic crisis due Covid-19 pandemic and the present war in Ukraine by Russian forces.

However, the government is adamant in its effort to educate the youth and give them prospects for the future. In the long run it would boast the economic growth and development and prosperity for the country. But not without the present cost.

The government of New Patriotic Party under Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo and Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia spent about GH₵ 2,312 on each student every year since the inception of free Seniour High School program was launchdd in September 2017 and currently the implementation of free Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET). As at June 2020, a total of 1.2 million students were in admission at the Seniour Secondary Schools across the country.

As at June 2022, the Government of Ghana had spent GH₵7.7 billion in implementing the Free Senior High School (SHS) policy since its inception. An amount of GH₵480 million was spent on the Policy in 2017, GH₵1.3 billion in 2018, GH₵1.6 billion in 2019, GH₵2.4 billion in 2020, GH₵1.9 billion was spent in 2021, while the cost is expected to increase drastically in 2022.

The Minister of Education, Dr Yaw Osei-Adutwum, said government had made giant strides in providing teaching and learning materials and expanded physical infrastructure like classroom blocks, dormitories, science and library laboratories, among others, to second cycle educational institutions across the country even though some elements in the society had tried to downplay Government’s efforts.

“We may not have the best education system in the world, but we had made giant strides over the past four years,” Dr Osei-Adutwum stressed.

He reiterated the Akufo-Addo-led government’s determination to providing free, compulsory and quality education to every Ghanaian school going-child in the quest of “making Ghana the education hub of Africa”.

The Minister said government was committed to building a robust education system that could compete with international best practices. Dr Osei-Adutwum said Government’s goal in implementing the Free SHS Policy was to transform the education system and making it play a pivotal role in socio-economic development of the country.

“For education to be fit-for-purpose, we should have students who are creative and critical thinkers, especially in this Fourth Industrial Revolution to navigate the world,” Dr Osei-Adutwum added.

Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Service was launched by the Vice-President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia on 14 December 2021. This brought all the technical and vocational programs run by 19 different Ministries under the armpit of Ghana TVET Service with the Director-General reporting to the Minister and the Ministry of Education just like the Director-General of Ghana Education Service and other agencies under the Ministry to ensure the smooth running of the Government’s flagship program “Free TVET for all”.

The Vice-President recalled that before the Akufo-Addo administration assumed office in 2017, many challenges including poor perception of TVET, multiplicity of standards, testing and certification systems, and informal TVET system that had been neglected and detached from formal sector affected the quality of TVET delivery in the institutions of Ghana.

This made it difficult for the sector to become the key catalyst to spur industrialization and creation of decent jobs for the citizens of the country. In 2017 when the government of Akufo-Addo took office, it formed a 15-member Technical Committee with memberships from various Ministries and Agencies to establish the Ghana TVET Service.

The Committee presented a Draft Bill to the Cabinet for approval in 2019, which was approved and sent to Parliament for ratification and on 29 December 2020 was signed by the President as the “Pre-Tertiary Act, 2020 (Act 1049)”.

Ghana will in the next few years benefit immensely from the government’s remarkable policy interventions that have transformed Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), the New Patriotic Party(NPP) Member of Parliament for Kwesimintsim, Dr Prince Hamid Armah, said.

“Mr Speaker, if you look at our school system, there are two pathways—the grammar type and the TVET sector. Yet we have focused attention over the years on the grammar type at the expense of TVET.

“There has been serious and significant investment in the grammar type without commensurate investment in the TVET,” he observed.

The basic purpose of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) is to equip the youth with the technical and professional skills needed for socioeconomic and industrial development of the country. The emphasis is on training people for self-employment.

Samuel Kojo Odoom of Mechanical Engineering Department at Takoradi Polytechnic, Emmanuel Kobina Payne, Electrical & Electronic Engineering Department at Takoradi Polytechnic and Doris Akua Boateng (Mrs.), Assistant Registrar/Administrator at Takoradi Polytechnic published a research paper in American Journal of Engineering Research (AJER) 2016, Volume-5, Issue-7, pp-280-285 about “Prospects of TVET for Ghana’s Industrial Development” and concluded that “TVET is critical for the country‟s development in forwarding its goal to create competent, motivated, adaptable and innovative workforce to transfer accumulated and demanded technologies.

They stated that this would contribute to poverty reduction, social and economic development “which is relevant to all sectors of the economy at all levels and to all people.” But “successive governments underlined the role of TVET in poverty reduction hence the Ministry of Education‟s main thrust, is to fight poverty through accelerated TVET strategy for economic growth.

“This could be achieved mainly through hands-on job application and employment creation through micro and SME of the private sector development. TVET is expected to play a key role in this strategy by building the required motivated and competent workforce. Government envisages TVET to provide the necessary relevant and demand driven education and training that corresponds to the needs of economic and social sectors for employment and job creation.

“The strategy further stresses the need for an increasing role and involvement of the private sector and non-governmental organizations as well as community involvement in the delivery of educational services. In order to avoid the mismatch between the available resources with increasing demands, measures for improving efficiency and cost effectiveness are called for”, they said.

The government should be resilient and should not listen to political opportunists that are urging for IMF bailout to put a stop to its efforts, but continue to harness local resources to built the economy, especially the training of the youth. IMF bailout would be a catastrophe to the development of the country and should never again be an option for the country.