The free senior high school (SHS) policy, arguably one of the most ambitious programmes in the country’s history, enters its second year in September/October 2018, with fresh admissions expected
For instance, in 2013, out of 352,202 students placed, 90,604 could not enrol, while in 2014, out of 386,412 students placed, 113,260 could not enrol.
Again, in 2015, out of 415,012 students placed, 115,363 could not enrol, and in 2016, out of 420,135 students, 111,336 could not enrol, all due to financial challenges.
The free SHS policy thus came as a relief to most parents and students who were eager to further their education at that level.
Apart from tuition that is free, there are no admission, library, science centre, computer lab, examination and utility fees, while textbooks and boarding are free, with day students getting a meal at school for free.
The 2018/2019 academic year is expected to see about 472,000 new entrants.
As a matter of fact, the huge positive impact of the free SHS policy is unquantifiable. as it has helped the country deal with the issue of idle teenagers who could have easily been influenced into social vices. It has also helped hasten the educational process of junior high school graduates who had to spend some years at home before having the opportunity to go to school, if at all.
The huge numbers that flocked to SHSs led to congestion, with the attendant negative effects on learning and facilities. But the Daily Graphic commends the government for not allowing the deficit in infrastructure to discourage it from rolling out the free SHS policy.
Obviously, the infrastructure gap necessitated an innovative way of dealing with the challenge. The Daily Graphic, therefore, commends the government for coming up with the initiative of a double intake system for new entrants.
Unlike the shift system in which learners have fewer contact hours, the dual intake will have the same number of contact hours for all students. This will help the country deal with the infrastructure challenge. The initiative will also help reduce the educational budget, as the same number of classrooms will be used to educate more students.
We know from educational philosophy and theories that smaller class sizes contribute to better class control and learning outcomes. Therefore, the reduction in class sizes arising from the double intake will improve teaching and learning.
We are happy with the education being done on the initiative, with the President of the land actively involved. We encourage the Education Ministry, and for that
We must also not lose sight of the fact that the infrastructure of the schools that are going to do the double intake is going to be stretched. We call for a maintenance culture to prevent the facilities from being run down in a short time. Again, we urge the universities, both public and private, to prepare for the increase in the anticipated numbers in three years’ time.
We can all help make the double intake idea successful for the benefit of our country.