There is real excitement in the air following the government’s nationwide roll-out of the free Senior High School (SHS) Policy.
The policy, which is one of the major campaign promises of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), stipulates that over 400,000 students will receive free tuition, textbooks, meals, library use, admission, examination as well as uniforms and will not be required to pay Students Representative Council (SRC) dues.
While this policy intervention has brought some financial relief to many parents across the country, it has also brought in its wake some teething challenges which need to be addressed dispassionately.
With the implementation of every good social policy, there are bound to be some initial hitches and it is not surprising that the roll-out of the policy is encountering same.
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Already, the Ghana Education Service (GES) has punished headmasters and administrators of some senior high schools (SHSs) for going against admission procedures under the policy.
While some policy analysts have described as apt the government’s decision to punish the heads and administrators of the schools, the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) and the Conference of Heads of Assisted Secondary Schools (CHASS) have described as harsh the decision by the GES to sack two school heads.
The Daily Graphic commends the government for implementing this bold and ambitious social intervention policy. However, we are of the view that with the experience of this year, the implementation needs to be looked at carefully if we are to avoid many more headmasters violating the rules of admission.
It is most worrying that despite the directives guiding the implementation of the policy which frown on any headmaster and their colleagues charging unapproved fees, some headmasters still flouted the directives.
Notwithstanding the teething challenges, the Daily Graphic is of the opinion that the gains to be derived from the implementation of the policy far outweigh many other considerations.
In our view, since there is no turning back to this great policy, all the bottlenecks need to be addressed to enable it to stand the test of time.
Policy implementors must, therefore, be ready to engage all stakeholders, including teacher unions, to address their concerns over the implementation of the free SHS.
Furthermore, the concerns of all stakeholders must be taken on board, considering the critical roles they play in the country’s educational arrangements.
Free SHS has come to stay and all hands must be on deck to make it sustainable.