The government has started making plans to address the expected number of students who will be pursuing tertiary education within the next three years when the first beneficiaries of the Free Senior High School (SHS) Policy would have completed their secondary education.
To begin with, the government is meeting with managers of all universities in the country to discuss ways by which they can manage the avalanche of students that will be pouring in from the year 2020.
The discussions are likely to focus on the expansion of infrastructure, recruitment of more teachers and other required facilities in order to contain the numbers.
The Minister of State in charge of Tertiary Education, Professor Kwesi Yankah, who spoke to the Daily Graphic in an interview in Accra said the government was mindful of the ripple effects of the huge numbers of students entering SHSs this year and was, therefore, taking proactive measures to address it.
There are growing concerns that the huge numbers of (over 400,000) junior high school (JHS) graduates gaining access to SHSs throughout the country this year could have serious implications for tertiary institutions in the country.
The concerns range from the current inadequate infrastructure such as lecture halls, boarding facilities and laboratories, few lecturers, need for capacity building of the lecturers to anticipated congestions and the implication of quality.
Access using technology
However, Prof. Yankah explained that there was no need to be over-worried because the government was looking at various options, including the use of technology to defy space and ensure that every candidate or student benefited from tertiary education.
“More importantly, it may mean a rethinking of the whole strategy and technology of education within this country and asking ourselves how countries have survived congestion in physical space, and decide to leapfrog through technology such as virtual learning and open university,” he told the Daily Graphic.
He said such technology was now the trend in many countries which had issues of rising congestion, adding that it was not just the space that would be of concern, but more importantly how technology could be used to make tertiary education accessible to all students seeking tertiary education.
Prof. Yankah said the decision was for the government to now start engaging managers of tertiary institutions in the country so that they were not caught unawares in the next three years.
The minister said the open university was a plausible option, where the entire student body was not confined to a classroom but linked up with the lecturer via technology, such that a student would not have to move to the campuses of either the University of Ghana, University of Cape Coast or the University of Education, Winneba before accessing tertiary education.
He said some universities were experimenting some of such technologies in the country and was convinced that such options could resolve most of the challenges of accessing tertiary education.