Free SHS: Graduate Recounts Challenges With Error-Ridden Textbooks And Past Questions

Free SHS: Graduate Recounts Challenges With Error-Ridden Textbooks And Past Questions

  • A free SHS graduate has dropped a bombshell about errors in government-approved textbooks and answers to past questions
  • The graduate made the revelations during a virtual forum to discuss the progress of the free SHS programme since its inception in 2017
  • Many of the participants of the forum organised by the Centre for Social Justice urged the government to heed calls to review the public education policy

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A recent graduate of the Free SHS programme has revealed that the textbooks and answers to past questions provided by the government to prepare them for the final exams were full of errors.

The graduate, Ruby Charlene Opoku, dropped the bombshell when she participated in a forum organised by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), a think tank.

Free SHS students learning.
Free SHS students in a class. Source: Facebook/@Edulearnweb
Source: Facebook

Opening CSJ’s 10th Leadership Dialogue Series on Thursday, April 28, the Free SHS graduate said having come from a private school at the Junior High School level, many of the challenges that marred the policy were easy to detect.

“There was the issue where most of the textbooks provided by the government contained erroneous information…, especially the past questions they provided; most of the answers were wrong. It is not like we look at the answers because we are lazy…but sometimes when we want to do self-evaluation and try to see the correct answers, most of these [answers] the past questions provided were wrong,” she said.

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She explained that many of the students had to use other textbooks for crosschecking answers and information in the textbooks.

The past questions that Ruby Charlene Opoku speaks about were part of the over one million past questions and answer booklets the government purchased in 2020 to prepare the students for the 2021 West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).

The government said it spent a total of GH₵68.5 million to procure the past questions and answer booklets. However, the cost and rationale for purchasing the past questions were heavily criticised by the Minority at the time.

She also disclosed that contrary to the impression that the government provided all textbooks, the government only offered textbooks for the core subjects.

“For students who could not buy these elective textbooks, it became a bit worrisome. They always had to depend on their mates who were always fortunate…or wait to inherit the books [for the elective subjects] from their seniors.

Recounting further her free SHS experience at the 10th Leadership Dialogue Series on the topic “Ghana’s Educational System: Current State and Future Aspirations,” the SHS graduate also cited the limited contact hours under the semester system affected learning.

“When we went to school, we had the three terms, and we had more contact hours; the teachers were able to take their time to take us through the subjects, and understanding was there. But with the introduction of the semester system, there were limited contact hours, and there was more vacation. So if you go on vacation, you really have to make sure that you learn or try to develop your own study habits,” she said.

With the vacation classes, she said her experience was that there was no organised structure for topic selection. According to her, in most vacation classes, topics are treated based on what most students decide should be treated.

For instance, if before the vacation, more students have just started learning Surds [in mathematics] than any other topic, then that is what will be treated.

Ruby Charlene Opoku mentioned these experiences to highlight the impediments to the free SHS.

The keynote speaker at the virtual forum was a former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Prof Ernest Aryeetey.

Quality Of Education Falling In Ghana But Free SHS Will Make It Worse – Prof Aryeetey

YEN.com.gh previously reported that Prof Aryeetey said the Free SHS policy would worsen Ghana's already declining education quality.

The Secretary-General of the African Research Universities Alliance said the Free SHS policy has contributed to a significant improvement in access to secondary education; however, this has not been matched by corresponding resources.

The Free SHS policy was a campaign promise by Nana Akufo-Addo during the campaign for the 2016 elections to make senior high school education completely free.

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