Folks, the introduction of the much-hyped-up free senior high school education in Ghana by Akufo-Addo has received more publicity than it deserves; and it seems to be the base on which the NPP is banking its hopes for voter support at Election 2020 to remain in power.
Much has been said about the advantages and disadvantages of this initiative, even as the NPP camp continues to see it as a huge accomplishment to be proud of. Some in the other political parties, including the NDC, also do so, although they may have reservations.
I see this initiative as a bold step in political baiting. Nothing spectacular to uphold as a problem-solver.
First, the challenges facing Ghana’s system of education don’t emanate from the secondary school level. Why, then, focus on it as Akufo-Addo is leading his administration to do?
Second, the secondary school tier in Ghana hasn’t been established to solve problems of the youth, contrary to what Akufo-Addo is leading his government and the NPP to portray. If you doubt it, read around to see why the colonial British administration established it and why the Great Osagyefo implemented the policy on Ghana Trust Fund/Schools that saw the establishment of secondary schools all over the country or why the Ghana Cocoa Board was co-opted to award scholarship to academically brilliant students like me (in those days).
Third, the challenges facing the senior secondary schools in Ghana (both private and public) suggest that a lot more has to be done than what Akufo-Addo has rushed to impose on the system. Don’t ask me why. You simply have to dig into the sloppy primary level, where official support is lacking.
Truth: The primary schools rather need support to churn out students that the secondary schools could absorb to justify their inclusion for Ghana’s good.
Now comes the nub and the rub. Giving free education to students at the senior high school level isn’t a solution to any of the problems undermining the youth’s aspirations.
Considering the opportunities (or lack thereof) at the tertiary level, what is the government’s plan to ensure that all those given free secondary school education can move forward to actualize their dreams on academic accomplishments?
I have in mind here the sad fate of those who completed secondary school by whatever means and hit the dead-end at the “O” and “A” levels as used to be the case in Ghana before the JSS and SSS modules.
Those falling into Division 2 or with the GCE Aggregate (not to talk about abject failure—Free Flight to France) can best tell their own horrifying stories.
Some were lucky to be appointed as “pupil teachers” while others sought refuge in post-secondary teacher training. We know the fate of “pupil teachers” and won’t bat an eyelid over any politicking about it.
Under the JSS and SSS system, a lot has happened to prove that the mere politicking going on isn’t the solution to the challenges facing secondary school education in Ghana.
True, Akufo-Addo has been bold to roll out this program. But the tit-bits of what has been done or not done are disturbing. Can this politically motivated gimmick be sustained? I doubt!!
What then? Let’s be bold to say that free senior secondary school education as being pursued by Akufo-Addo is an albatross. As of now, the repercussions are dire and a lot has to be done to smooth the rough edges. No wayward politics can solve the problem.
As an educator, parent, and public intellectual, I am bothered about what this so-called free education at the SSS level portends for Ghana. Nothing bad about using public funds to support public education; but I don’t think that enough homework has been done to make this NPP government’s initiative laudable. Where will the “unsuccessful products of the free SSS system” go to not cause trouble? Consider the fate of the “Unemployed Graduate Students (Association) or others at the tertiary level and judge things for yourselves. My take. What is yours?