The choice to educate Ghanaian Children of School-going age freely was and is still the best in our history. The choice made by the current President of Ghana to educate the masses of our Republic free of charge is completely useful. Many governments have embarked on social intervention programmes to help lessen the pressure of poverty on the Ghanaian populace. But such programmes have not had a significant impact as the current programme and policy. Free education is a necessity as it forms the foundation to develop the human capital of the Republic.
In modern economies, the sustenance of the growth and economic development programmes is made possible with the help of the skills obtained at school. The skills that will be imparted on the Ghanaian Youth through Education is immense. This choice however has consequences in money and other forms. The huge consequences of opportunity cost forgone in educating the youth cannot be underestimated.
Therefore, the programme needs to point out the benefits that the state and its citizens will derive from its implementation. The opportunity cost of the programme must not outweigh the paybacks it must bring. In the light of this, there is the need to evaluate and revise the aspects of the programme that will diminish the rewards to be gained eventually.
It is true that educating the populace freely is far better than to waste the resources on non-existing programmes. However, there must be value for money in the economic choice made in this regard. There are implementation challenges with every policy and a revision of policies is not a delinquency in itself. To achieve the ultimate aim of the programme, it must be revised and mainstreamed to conform to global practice. Internationally, educational programmes aim to cause a change in society and people by altering their intuition on many things. If such an end cannot be achieved, reviewing a policy or programme is not a choice but a must. Currently, the practical experience is that many of the students cannot demonstrate that the chief goal of developing the capacity of the citizens through Free SHS for work or job can be had. The students, wards and parents see the Free SHS policy as just a right which they must exercise anyway. Choosing to exercise a right is not outside of the limits of the law of the Republic but this must carry a value that every stakeholder of education wishes will be attained.
This value should be an eternal change that will help the Human Resource of the state to gain the requisite skills, knowledge and expertise to develop the sectors of the economy through the use of exquisite ideas. Education is meant to develop the mental and other faculties of people and so if it is not expected in some areas, institution and students, there must be a revision. Many of the schools in the country have underperforming students who are allowed to move to their next classes without passing any promotion examinations. The Free Senior High School is by far one of the best policies in terms of Social intervention in Ghana and the need to revise its content to achieve its purpose is highly dear. The purpose of education is building the capacity of the Human Resource of the state that will develop ideas to spur growth in the sectors of the economy. The Senior High School is an institution that must lay the concrete foundation for such an objective. While Education is not the prerogative of the rich, it is meant for serious-minded people. Individuals who have the zeal to learn are those that must be educated such that every penny spent will yield positive results. Therefore, it is recommended that the policy of the government’s Free Senior High School be revised based on the following arguments;
There must be a cut off system en route to the grade of Senior High School. The cut off system that was introduced and used in the past two decades must be reestablished. All parties and stakeholders must embrace this system as it will ensure an effective policy in due course. The cut off system will open the chance to enroll serious students at the Senior High Schools. Students who meet the demands of this criterion are the ones to be educated. The argument that every child of School-going age in Ghana must be educated is inherently defective. There is a waste of state financial resources on some students who are highly intellectually poor. The return on the investment of the state on such students is naught. In every investment, the return is topmost priority and not the decision itself. Thus, the return on the investment of the Free SHS educational policy needs to be properly assessed. Hence, the cut off system is preferred and will help ensure that there will be value for money of the state as serious-minded students are trained through this system.
Schools should be given the authority to act freely in deciding to demote or promote the students. School authorities including heads, must have the power to demote, to sack (based on poor performance) and to promote imbued in their responsibilities in running the schools of the state. Currently, School heads are barred from demoting non-performing students. These students have the opportunity to act recklessly and others do not take their learning seriously. It can be observed that most of these students are protected by this clause regulating the Free Senior High School. In the light of this, it is recommended that the policy allow the Heads of the Schools to demote, promote or sack students based on performance internally. End of semester examinations must be used to internally assess the performance of the students to urge for their promotion or demotion. The present system that is used for wholesale promotion is weak in principle. To obtain quality future manpower capable of solving problems, then the Heads must be empowered to demote, sack and promote non-performing students.
Students who obtain grades above the cut off point must be placed at technical and vocational institutes. It is true that in history people who were not serious in their learning became renowned men in their fields. Such an example was Albert Einstein. But those men were able to achieve their heroics because they changed. So, the opinion of people that will be expressed on the possibility of students with poor grades doing well later intrinsically depends on the readiness of the people to change. In my opinion, technical and vocational training will suit them perfectly. Many of such students will do well in trade and skilled professions than the other programmes.
In an attempt to train and develop a better human resource for the state in the future, there is the need to technically evaluate the Free SHS policy based on the foregoing discussed issues. If such an action is taken, it will present many opportunities to the state and stakeholders in education to derive a long term desired value of the programme. From a practical experience, there is the need to revise the policy for the good of the State.
Emmanuel Kwabena Wucharey
(A Citizen of Kamampa)
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."