Even though education is one of the key factors to the development of a nation, it has always been known to cost an arm and a leg in most nations. However this is not the case anymore in Ghana. It’s evidently clear that the government and the people have realized how important education is to the country and have decided to institute the SHS policy in Ghana. This new policy will see more students get admitted from Junior high schools to senior high through the removal of the cost barrier. Join us in the article as we discuss more on the SHS policy in Ghana.
What is free SHS?
Free Senior High School in Ghana, also abbreviated as SHS, is a policy started by President Nana Akuffo- Addo as a government initiative back in September 2017.
Is SHS free in Ghana?
Currently, yes. SHS in Ghana was a major campaign policy used by President prior to the elections in 2016. This is a policy that is aims at providing free senior high School and TVET education to Ghanian Students. This means that, in addition to free tuition students will no longer be required to pay admission fees computer fees, fees for their meals… and all other additional fees students used to pay before. In other words education will be completely free.
Under the Free SHS program student borders benefit from a full scholarship package of GH₵ 1,002.47 while day students have a package of GH₵ 648.47 which includes free textbooks and other learning materials required by the students. This will ensure that every student gets enough revision materials and books required for his/ her course.
The program aims at enhancing accessibility of education to needy students who cannot afford SHS fees which will intern promote equality in the country. The program will work in removing the cost barriers that have been hindering students to join senior high schools, something that was of much concern in the country. In fact, a recent study by Duflo Dupas Kremer showed that almost 2000 students from Junior highs schools fail to join Ghana senior high school due to lack of funds which has increased the calls for free SHS education in Ghana. Progressively the number will continue to rise within the years and this creates much worry to the country.
How does one get to qualify for the free SHS?
All you need to qualify for this program is to have passed your exams at the Public Junior high schools. However, only the students who completed their Junior high School education after 2017 will benefit from the free SHS education. Anyone who did their Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) before 2017 will not benefit from the program. If you failed in your Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) you can resit for the examinations to ensure you don’t get left out from the free SHS placement program.
Despite the much success expected from the new policy, there is shortage of the existing infrastructure in the schools. this is because more students than the normal numbers are expected to be enrolled each year.
In response to this, the government is working on improving the infrastructure of the existing schools. The government is also expected to implement a double track system for the free SHS.
What is the double tracking system for the SHS? This is a system which will ensure that all students get to learn by share the existing learning resources.With the double tracking system the entire students and staff body will be divided into two groups. While one group is on vacation the other group will be in school. A rotation sequence will be used all round the year until the two groups are done with their senior high school education. This system will ensure enough room is created to accommodate the all the students in the existing senior schools. once implemented the system is expected to run for a few years before the government is done with improving the infrastructure to accommodate every student.
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Despite the success expected from the free SHS policy, there are some that still think that the double tracking system will not be success in the nation. Some hold on that, despite the system has been working in other developed countries it doesn’t mean that the system will work in the country. Some of this other countries this system has worked include United States japan and Germany. The double tracking system is expected to create much time for the students while on holidays which might lead the students in engaging themselves in vices. Teenage pregnancy, internet fraud among others are more likely to occur while the students are on the long vacations.
What are the benefits of the SHS?
- Free education in Ghana will remove the burden of paying school fees from the parents which will give the parents a chance to invest their finances in other different ways.
- The educational policies in Ghana will ensure needy students get to be educated by the removal of the cost barrier that keeps most students away.
Disadvantages of the SHS policy
- The policy will strain the economy of the country. A lot of finances will be channeled to the system which would have been used in other areas.
- Lack of sustainability – the progressively free SHS policy in Ghana and the double tracking system seems to be built on a shaky foundation. Even though the double tracking system on the free SHS policy is not expected to last for long it will end up costing the government large amounts of money. The government has allocated about 400 million to cater for the 2017/2018 academic year. This is fairly a huge sum considering that it is going to be incurred each year.
The issue of offering free basic education to all students in the country and Africa at large should no longer be a debate but something that should be made available to everyone at no cost at all. It should no longer be a debt sentence to our people.
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