Free SHS policy: Red flags were ignored — Prof. Oduro
A Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Cape Coast (UCC), Prof. George KT Oduro, has stated that political ideological differences must not limit national discourses for quality in all sectors especially the educational sector.
He noted that the over-politicisation of the educational governance has impacted negatively on the efficient implementation of the Free Senior High School (SHS) policy.
In particular reference to the challenges facing the implementation of the free SHS policy, Prof. Oduro noted that red flags and contrasting views on the implementation of the policy were ignored by the government.
He advised future governments to create a non-threatening environment and embrace contrasting views on educational policy reforms and implementation.
"A national stakeholder forum, devoid of political party discrimination should be created for constructive interrogation of issues,' he stated.
Prof. Oduro was speaking at the maiden annual state of education in Ghana lecture series instituted by the Institute for Educational Research and Innovation Studies (IERIS) of the University of Education Winneba on Wednesday.
It was on the theme, "The state of education in Ghana-The past, the present and the future.”
Prof. Oduro spoke on the topic, "A focus on policy reforms from an academic perspective."
He cited the implementation of the junior high school (JHS) in the PNDC era and the implementation of the free SHS policy by the NPP, saying the hostile reactions from the governments on those policies impacted negatively on their implementation.
Prof. Oduro said the current free SHS policy for instance, before its implementation, had critical questions of concern on quality, funding and sustainability raised.
He said the degree of threats and tagging that characterised contrasting opinions received from government however stifled constructive criticism and interrogation of the policy.
He observed that educational institutions and systems must move from the over politicisation of structures and issues for effective implementation of educational policies and programmes.
Prof. Oduro noted with concern that there were currently no clear lines between political party leadership and governance leadership, saying politics had infiltrated many sectors of the economy including education.
"So we have a district chief executive who should represent the district behaving like constituency chairman of a particular party, a regional minister who behaves like a regional chairman of a political party, if we have presidents who behave like national chairmen of parties, vice chancellors who behave like the agents of a political party and deans who are behaving like that, then policy implementation would be a problem.”
He said while politics could not totally be decoupled from any venture, it was important to put national and institutional well-being and structures above political interests.
"Government must engage people based on their competencies to ensure the effective implementation of educational policies," he added.
Fair distribution of resources
He called for attention on the quality and equity components of educational policies for rural communities and also called for fairness in the distribution of educational resources giving priority to poorer communities.
The Director of IERIS, Prof. Avea Nsoh, said the lecture series was to make input that would have a positive impact on the nation's educational discourse.
The head of Centre for Educational Policy Studies of UEW, Dr Kwame Odei Titi, called for an educational system that would “reflect our character and values and aspirations as a people”.