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‘Free SHS needs continuous stakeholder engagement’

BY: Edmund Smith-Asante
Rt. Rev. Samuel N. Mensah
Rt. Rev. Samuel N. Mensah

The government has been urged to continuously engage key stakeholders in the educational sector such as the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) and civil society groups to explain the dynamics of the implementation of the free Senior High School (SHS) policy.

The “government must also state clearly the duration of the double-intake system as to whether it is being implemented to replace the old system of running on a term basis or as a short-term intervention to address the infrastructure deficit,” a leadership development and transition management consultant, Rt Rev. Samuel N. Mensah, said.

Wading into the ongoing debate on the introduction by the current government of the free SHS system and its attendant challenges, Rt Rev. Mensah, who is also the President of the Full Gospel Church International (FGCI), commended the government for its introduction of what he termed an audacious vision.

He also called for the de-politicisation of discussions, stating: “At this stage, we should move the discussions of our educational system from being a political agenda to more of a human development agenda.”

Constitution and SDG 4

Rt Rev. Mensah indicated in an interview with the Daily Graphic that the steps taken by the previous and current governments to offer more opportunities in education was in the right direction, as “Article 25(1)b in the 1992 Constitution states that secondary education in its different forms, including technical and vocational education, shall be made generally available and accessible to all by every appropriate means and in particular, by the progressive introduction of free education”.


“I see the move by both the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the current New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration over the past few years as a step in the right direction to adhere to the provisions in the 1992 Constitution, which ultimately will lead to the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal Four,” he stated.

Goal Four of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which is on quality education, states in part: “Achieving inclusive and quality education for all reaffirms the belief that education is one of the most powerful and proven vehicles for sustainable development.

“This goal ensures that all girls and boys complete free primary and secondary schooling by 2030. It also aims to provide equal access to affordable vocational training to eliminate gender and wealth disparities, and achieve universal access to a quality higher education.”

Recommendations

Rt Rev. Mensah suggested the introduction of a course in the curriculum that would expose students to basic research and data-gathering techniques during vacations to tackle the fear of students indulging in all forms of vices during the period.

“If that is done, students can be given some form of practice and relevant assignments to be carried out while on vacations, for which they will be expected to report on when they return to school,” he added.

The transition management consultant also urged the government to include targeting in the free SHS so that parents who could afford the school fees for their wards be allowed to do so.