Govt considering free tertiary education - President says at Global Education Summit

BY: Daily Graphic
President Akufo-Addo interacting with the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, at the Global Education Summit in London, UK
President Akufo-Addo interacting with the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, at the Global Education Summit in London, UK

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said the government is considering free education at the tertiary level, following the successful implementation of the free senior high school (SHS) policy.

He said the free SHS policy had resulted in some 400,000 more children getting access to SHS education in the country, with the government addressing the infrastructure challenges that came with the policy.

“So in Ghana, we’ve taken the decision that we’re going full scale ahead, now that we have widened public education at the secondary school level for all and sundry, to try and replicate it at the tertiary level too,” he said.

Global Education Summit

President Akufo-Addo gave the hint at the Global Education Summit, co-hosted by the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and the Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta, in London.

The President also mentioned the students loan scheme as one area which had seen major improvement.

“Until recently, if you wanted to get a student’s loan in Ghana, you had to find a guarantor. We’ve removed the guarantor requirement. If you have the Ghana Card, you can now go on the basis of that and you get the loan, which is also going to mean a significant expansion of education at the tertiary level,” he said.

Describing the steps being taken as “absolutely critical for our future”, the President noted that “if we don’t do it, we will not be able to get to our basic goal, which is a structural transformation of our economy. Lives and livelihoods are both keys to the future for us and we will hopefully continue to do that”.

Widening access

President Akufo-Addo said the government was widening access to education for all school-going children because an educated workforce would help realise the vision of a progressive and prosperous country.

He noted that the goal of African countries was to move away from being mere producers and exporters of raw materials to become value-added economies.

President Akufo-Addo explained that that vision would not be realised if Africa did not have an educated workforce.

“It, therefore, requires an investment that we have to make to ensure that not just as many but all our children have the opportunity to go to school, right from kindergarten, through primary, secondary and through to the tertiary level,” he said.

Towards the realisation of that goal, he said, Ghana was on course to guaranteeing access to education for all school-going children, evidenced by the allocation of 23 per cent of the national budget to education, adding that “it is one of the highest on the continent, and we intend to ramp it up even more”.

$4 billion

At the end of the summit, international governments and corporations pledged to donate $4 billion to the Global Partnership for Education, which provides fair access to public education in 90 countries and territories that account for 80 per cent of children out of school.

The summit emphasised the importance of equitable access to education, amid warnings that COVID-19 had exacerbated already under-resourced public education programmes in less economically developed countries.

Experts alerted the organisation to the fact that it was unlikely for those forced out of schools due to the pandemic to return.