The free senior high school policy should have been structured in a way to directly and indirectly check the performances of students of the Junior High seeking admission into Senior High School (SHS). How? The Free SHS Policy as a “universal scholarship”, should be such that, it rather motivates and promotes seriousness and higher performance among students and parents but its current structure does not. The mode of entry into government-run SHS’s is no longer based on aggregates attained from previous West African Examination Council exams; Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE). It is now based on the mere fact that one has undergone some years of Basic Education and has a certificate to show for it without giving credence to the pass grade of the student(s) involved.
This has led to a mass promotion of students; passed and failed to the next level of education, increasing the workload of teachers in those institutions. In this regard, a strategic cut-off point or aggregate must be attained to qualify for the Free SHS Scholarship. Hence, students who fail to meet the cut-off grade are either made to re-sit the exams or made to register and write another year to make sure they learn very well to pass. Alternatively, parents or students who insist they will continue (regardless of their failure), must be ready to take responsibility of paying their own fees. Both policies can equally apply. This is because, in our quest (as a country) to make the education system more flexible, we must be mindful of the policies we implement, so we do not end up producing high numbers of unemployable “graduates”.
This way, students will be more serious with their studies knowing they have a barrier to cross and the effects, if they fail to pass well. Parents on the other hand shall become more serious and concerned about their wards’ academic activities by supervising them to do their assignments and projects, checking on them in school, making sure they study at home, therefore eliminating the current lukewarm attitude.
A study has shown that, majority of parents or guardians are now more concerned about providing basic necessities such as food, shelter and cloth for their families rather than what their wards do in school and how they go about their daily lives. The outstanding causal factor is the growing economic hardship and poverty.
On policies, the adoption of popularity policies in our educational sector (such as complete ban on corporal punishments, work overload on the few teachers, etc.) have rather led to the overprotection and misconduct of most students and the victimization of teachers, putting more stress on them. This has also made most teachers less concerned about the performances of students and their conducts. The common expression used to this effect by most teachers just to console or motivate themselves is “after all, they are not my relatives”. The sad reality…
One must note that, the raising of an African child must be distinct and very holistic such that in the end, the child must become highly disciplined, obedient, a person of integrity, etc. Also, due to factors among which are, our unique culture, traditions, morals and values, religiousness, etc. our leaders, in adopting borrowed traits, culture or policy, must be critical in factoring and harmonizing such traits and policies with our unique values, morals, religiousness and traditions so it does not end up causing more harm than good to the youths and children, now or in the future regardless of the good intents behind such policies.
Another factor which is directly affecting the breakdown of our education system is the low incentive for teachers and the lack of passion for the job. Most teachers in the teaching field are not there because of the passion for the job but due to the degree of job assurance at this field and economic hardship. This is also contributing to the low performance of students especially at the Primary and JHS levels and now extending to the SHS’s.
The current nature of the Free SHS policy; allowing everybody regardless of their performance to gain admission into SHS, will eventually reduce the quality of graduates we want to produce for the country. Why? The nature of the policy currently does not promote serious studies among the greater majority of students. Another question which is very significant to ponder over is; “Are we ready for it now?” If we are, do we have the necessary structures, infrastructure, economy and enabling environment to sustain and make it more impactful especially now that the policy has resulted in a shift from the usual curricular to a double track system.
The usual firefighting trend went into the implementation of the Free SHS policy. The paradigm of “let us implement it now regardless and deal with the avoidable aftermath” must be shifted. Sometimes it is good to implement or pilot some strategies or policies and tackle the resulting problems “head-on” but not when these resultant problems are highly obvious.
The ridicule received by the ban on corporal punishment and the criticism being meted out to the Free SHS policy do not make them bad decisions or policies respectively but rather, as a developing country, enough due diligence must be observed with regards to our capacity to carry out such policies efficiently and effectively. Simply put, “Yɛyɛ deɛ ehia ansana yɛayɛ deɛ ɛfata”.
Interesting as this may seem, it is more revealing to note that, a careful individual analysis and observations have shown that there is a clear relationship between economic hardship or poverty among parents (guardians) and their inability to properly appreciate or benefit from most of these policies especially the “social intervention policies” (the way in which they are crafted and implemented) Why? Because most of these policies might create different problems for them in the future.
For instance, Kofi goes through a free but loose education system, graduates and cannot innovate, get a job or implement most of the things he claimed he has learnt.
In the above scenario, Kofi’s parents will be happy for not paying school fees but in the near future, when Kofi is unable to contribute to his upkeep and the family’s, he then becomes a burden on the family or parents again. This can be term as the “postponement of current problem to future”. A future which could have been worthwhile becomes wasteful; a future which could have been restful becomes more and more stressful.
Furthermore, a resultant problem of the Free SHS policy is the Double Track System. It is sad seeing and listening to students complaining about the inconveniences they go through in their bits or efforts to complete a term’s lessons.
On the other hand, teachers are now compelled to cover a lot of topics and contents over very short period. This piece meal type of teaching with a bulky content leads to inefficiencies and its related issues. Overlooking the stress on teachers are their low remuneration and motivation packages.
In the quest to revise and simplify the syllabus to suit the Double Track System (a system that must be halted for now), care must be taken not to eliminate vital topics and contents which may eventually lead to low outcomes in education.
Also, our leaders must be careful the way Technical and Vocational Education is currently been handled because the collapse and complete loss of fate in these systems of education shall create major problems going forward…
In all, as much as I may agree with this expression; Let us be reminded that, the development of our motherland rests not on the shoulders of the politicians alone, but the collective effort of each and every citizen in each and every field of endeavor, I still believe and hold that, the majority of work to develop our motherland depends largely on the political leaders because they control and possibly influence all productive resources and how things must be done. They can either create or frustrate the enabling environments needed by all to progress as well as to contribute their efforts in making our motherland happier.
GOD BLESS OUR HOMELAND GHANA AND MAKE OUR NATION GREAT AND STRONG.
Thank you all.
Written by: COFFIE CONFIDENCE ( www.eyata.org )
Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."