Free SHS saves 2.8 students from streets
By Maxwell Ofori
But for the bold decision to implement the Free Senior High School (SHS) policy and the accompanying double track system, about 2.8 million students would have been left stranded on our streets without education for the next twenty years.
The double track system, however, has made it possible for an additional 140,000 students to be enrolled this year, but research work this government inherited indicated that the Free SHS would only be feasible in the next twenty years.
This means if the 140,000 which would have been the backlog is multiplied by the twenty years that the policy was expected to kick off about 2.8 million Junior High School (JHS) graduates would have been denied access to secondary education.
But, according to the Deputy Minister of Education, Dr Osei Yaw Adutwum, the government did not want this to happen, hence the bold decision to kick start the implementation of the policy.
Speaking at the Most Holy Trinity Presbyterian Church, Community 20-Lashibi Estates, Greater Accra yesterday, the Deputy Minister, who had helped some schools in the United States of America to have more pupils in school, said in 2016, about 302,000 students entered their first year of secondary school.
“In 2018 September, we have close to four hundred and forty thousand. 302,000, to 440,000 – look at the difference. If we did not create the double track opportunity for them to go, it meant that this 140,000 were going to be on the streets,” the Minister told the congregation yesterday.
Against that thought, he said the free SHS, which is one of the main policies of the Akufo-Addo government, was timely introduced as a panacea to the huge numbers of children who would not have had the opportunity.
“…And research that we inherited showed that it was going to take us (Ghana) 20 years to have all the schools we needed to implement free Senior High School. So, look at this, 140,000 every year for 20 years. How many people would have been deprived the opportunity of secondary education.
“Now, if we can find another way which the Americans have used, call it double track, and have more people to have the opportunity of a lifetime – those who wouldn’t have had the opportunity to go, what is wrong with it?” he quizzed.
Though he also added that he recognised there were people who do not understand the double track and needed help for them to understand, what bothers him is when people take to it to be a destruction of the country’s educational system. He stressed that though some could afford any amount for their child’s education, but there were many who cannot afford, thus the need to reach out to such people as well.
Speaking on the theme “Let Christ be formed in you – Awakening the Presbyterian spirit in Education,” he said the Presbyterian form of education was one of the leading education systems.
He explained that the Presbyterian spirit was making sure that education was not only about academics, but also how to develop others beyond academics.
He, therefore, urged the congregation to take it upon themselves to help children, so they become or not become like them. Something, he said, could go a long way to change lives.
Stressing on the subject, he said that the solution for the development of our country is in the hands of its people, and that if they did not work it out, the solution will elude all.
Urging the church to be ambassadors of change, the Minister asserted that everyone, including the church, had a responsibility to change the country, not government only.
The church service, which took a unique nature, saw the congregation wearing uniforms of their alma mater. Looking ‘old school’ were some aged who did not want to be left out, as they wore their uniforms and took over the dance floor during the praises session.
Meanwhile, the Minister in charge of the church, Reverend David Aboagye-Danquah, in an interview after the service, said the ‘Rep Your School Sunday’, was a way to re-awaken the spirit of the church in the education of the country.
He said the church needed to rise up and play its role, considering the education system of the country, and therefore, “we are trying to let the [church] members to be aware that we have a role to play as stakeholders of the education system.
“So, we want to remind ourselves that we have this divine responsibility to provide God-given, biblical education to members so that we will support and contribute to the effort of the government to bring our schools to the level we all expect,” he remarked.
Typical of SHS and tertiary schools, notably Katanga Boys of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Techonology (KNUST), the youngsters in the church, all clad in different school uniforms, staged a jama session after the church service, which got the attention of the adults