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All hail the free SHS policy

Author: Daily Graphic
Akufo-Addo unveilled free SHS logo
Akufo-Addo unveilled free SHS logo

When the government indicated its intention to implement the free senior high school (SHS) policy, the first time in Ghana’s history, many were those who wondered where it would get the resources to fund such a huge endeavour.

But President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo yesterday put to rest that vexed question about funding sources by pointing to proceeds from the country’s natural resources as the source of funding for the ambitious programme.

Speaking at the West Africa SHS (WASS) at Adentan, near Accra, to officially launch the free SHS policy, the President said: “We have decided to use the proceeds from our natural resources to help educate the population to drive our economic transformation.”

The free SHS policy is in line with the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Four, Target One, which states: “By 2030, all boys and girls will complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education, leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes.”

It also stipulates that by 2030, all girls and boys will have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education, so that they are ready for primary education.

The Daily Graphic uses this opportunity to commend the President for walking the talk, in spite of the numerous criticisms from sceptics whose concern was the issue of funding, making them say the policy was unsustainable.

We are aware that the cost to the nation in nominal terms is high, but in real terms, the policy can be described as one of the most important investments a government could make in its people.

Many countries, including the United States, have made secondary education free for citizens and the benefits include the turning out of a skilful labour force.

In Ghana, many people who occupy top positions in both the public and the private sectors were supported with some form of scholarship, without which they would have wasted away, and the country would have been the biggest loser.

It is, therefore, refreshing that the government has actualised what many deemed impossible because of lack of funds. But, as the saying goes: ‘You will not know how easy or tedious a journey is until you take the first step,’

The free SHS policy will definitely be an expensive venture and the government has to work extra hard to raise the required funds from our natural resources to honour its obligations. This is because the country does not control the prices of such resources, including oil and gas, on the international market.

Against this background, the Daily Graphic would want to prevail on the government to set aside a fund for the policy, so that Ghana’s development partners and corporate Ghana can contribute to cushion the programme in times of need.

It is also necessary for the government to consider ensuring that officials in charge of the policy do so with tact and diligence to ensure that there is complete transparency and accountability.

No mismanagement or misapplication of funds, as far as this programme is concerned, should be entertained. This is the surest way to sustain the programme that holds the key to the formation of a solid and skilful human resource base for the country.