In the grand architecture- of national progress, the threads of education weave the very fabric that binds a society together. For Ghana, the implementation of the Free Senior High School (Free SHS) policy has been nothing short of revolutionary, promising equal educational opportunities for all.
However, the recent resistance from the government to conduct a comprehensive review of the policy, as expressed by Charles Aheto-Tsegah, a former Director-General of the Ghana Education Service, raises serious concerns about the long-term sustainability and effectiveness of the program.
The cornerstone of any successful policy is its adaptability to the evolving needs and challenges of the times. Aheto-Tsegah’s call for a thorough review of the Free SHS policy is not an indictment but rather a recognition of the necessity for periodic evaluations. It is through such examinations that we can identify potential shortcomings, address systemic issues, and chart a course for targeted improvements. An initiative as monumental as the Free SHS policy requires the wisdom to acknowledge that progress is an ongoing process, not a static achievement.
Education Minister, Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum’s assertion that the policy only needs specific improvements, rather than a complete review, is a viewpoint that warrants careful scrutiny. While targeted improvements are undoubtedly essential, adopting a myopic approach that dismisses the need for an overarching review may inadvertently lead to the oversight of systemic issues that could impede the policy’s long-term effectiveness. The success of Free SHS hinges not just on the immediate gains but on its ability to stand the test of time and contribute meaningfully to Ghana’s educational landscape.
Aheto-Tsegah’s concern about the lack of dialogue and interaction in terms of how education is delivered strikes at the heart of effective governance. A thriving educational system thrives on open discourse, constructive criticism, and a commitment to continuous improvement. By resisting a comprehensive review, the government risks stifling the very dialogue that could lead to innovative solutions and improvements in the delivery of education to Ghanaian youth.
“The government is playing the ostrich and it thinks that it is delivering spectacular results but whatever achievement that it had made, they could be better if they allowed themselves to give a proper review of how the system is going and give proper attention to some voices calling for a review.
“The minister sought to create the impression that the measures that he was putting in place were the best and it is very unfortunate because it shows that there is no dialogue and interaction in terms of how education is delivered.”Charles Aheto-Tsegah
Furthermore, the debate surrounding Free SHS seems to be marred by political polarization, a trend that is both dishearteing and counterproductive. Aheto-Tsegah rightly observes that it appears as if supporters of the ruling party are primarily focused on the notion that education has become free, overlooking the nuances and intricacies of the policy’s implementation. The success of Free SHS is not solely measured by mass enrolment figures; a comprehensive review could offer a nuanced understanding of its impact on the quality of education, teacher-student ratios, and the overall infrastructure of educational institutions.
Mass enrolment, while touted as a success, may not necessarily equate to a qualitative improvement in education. Calls for a comprehensive review underscores the importance of evaluating the actual impact of Free SHS on the ground. Are classrooms adequately equipped? Are teachers well-prepared to handle the increased student population? Is the quality of education being compromised in the pursuit of numerical milestones? These are questions that can only be adequately addressed through a meticulous and unbiased review.
In the pursuit of sustainable development, policies, no matter how well-intentioned, require periodic evaluations and adjustments. The Free SHS policy, with its noble objective of providing equal educational opportunities, should not be exempted from such scrutiny. The government’s unwillingness to embrace a thorough review is, unfortunately, a missed opportunity to strengthen and refine an initiative that holds the key to Ghana’s future prosperity.
As the custodians of the nation’s educational well-being, policymakers must recognize the importance of listening to diverse voices advocating for a comprehensive evaluation. A thorough review should not be seen as a challenge to the legitimacy of the Free SHS policy but rather as a testament to the government’s commitment to ensuring the initiative remains a beacon of hope for Ghanaian youth.
The reluctance to review the Free SHS policy is an unwarranted stagnation that jeopardizes the potential long-term success of this landmark initiative. A comprehensive and unbiased review is not an indictment of the policy’s achievements but a responsible and necessary step towards its continuous improvement. As Ghana charts its path towards a brighter future, the education of its youth must remain a top priority, and policies like Free SHS must be subjected to the scrutiny necessary for their evolution and effectiveness.