The government expects a smooth take-off of the free senior high school (SHS) policy this month, in spite of the anticipated problems.
New entrants to SHS will enjoy tuition and other amenities free of charge, in fulfilment of the flagship campaign promise of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) made as far back as 2008.
The package for the policy includes free tuition and no admission, library, science resource centre, computer laboratory, examination and utility fees.
There will also be free textbooks, free boarding and free meals, while day students will also get a meal a day at school for free.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, speaking at the 60th anniversary of the Okuapemman School on February 11, 2017, said the government had a well thought-out plan that involved the building of new public and cluster SHSs to give more meaning to free public secondary education.
Though the initiative to provide secondary education for free is laudable, the role of stakeholders is not defined.
Parent-teacher associations (PTAs) at the SHS level, old students associations and religious and traditional leaders are some of the stakeholders who can contribute substantially towards the provision of school infrastructure and its maintenance within the framework of the policy.
For instance, the role of PTAs, which have contributed to the provision of some infrastructure and extra classes for students, has not been properly defined.
The Daily Graphic is worried that although the government has its part to play to ensure the smooth tak-off of the policy, the non-engagement of critical stakeholders such as community leaders, religious bodies and other parties could derail the process.
It is the view of the Daily Graphic that as we begin the implementation of the policy, we must ensure that the quality of education is not compromised in the wholesale implementation of the policy.
We urge the government to involve the stakeholders, especially parents, for them to take up their obligations and not renege on their shared fundamental responsibility of helping in the character formation of their children for responsible adult roles.
Again, involving the stakeholders will have a measure of balancing access and quality to make the free SHS policy more meaningful to the Ghanaian child.
The Daily Graphic urges the government to consider early warning signs and suggestions from stakeholders of education not as a vote or political opposition to the policy but rather suggestions that will make the implementation of the policy smoother and better.
We think by engaging the relevant stakeholders in the running of schools, there will be better accountability from the managers of the schools to ensure that quality education is not compromised.
Stakeholder engagements will also lead to community ownership of the schools and the policy to achieve the desired results.