President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has assured Ghanaians the quality of secondary education will not be sacrificed in the implementation of the free senior high school (SHS) policy.
He said at the core of the programme’s implementation is the “provision of quality education” which would be pursued unfailingly.
At the official launch of the free SHS at the West African Secondary School (WASS) in Accra Tuesday, the President said his government was partnering with key stakeholders to address challenges with secondary education.
He cited infrastructure deficit, quality of teaching and lack of educational materials, which he said would be catered for under the programme.
Ghana has joined the ranks of Norway, Sweden, Germany, Denmark and Finland where one’s parents’ income may not be the decider in the accessibility of secondary education.
The country’s first attempt at making education free was started by first President Kwame Nkrumah after independence for people of northern extraction.
The Convention People’s Party (CPP) government conceptualized education as a vehicle for driving development in the northern part of the country.
As an Nkrumahist leading the New Patriotic Party (NPP), a capitalist oriented party, Mr Akufo-Addo first promised to make secondary education free in the lead up to the 2008 election.
He was to repeat this promise in the 2012 and 2016 general elections, popularising the concept, “free SHS.”
Political critics said the quality of the country’s education will be compromised if secondary education is made free instead of the constitutional prescription of “progressively free.”
The Minority in Parliament on Monday raised issues with the funding of the programme, which it said is not sustainable and might affect its implementation.
While he acknowledged challenges may surface in the implementation of the free SHS, President Akufo-Addo said they will not derail the programme.
“We are removing one of the biggest obstacles that currently stand in their [students] way [to education] – cost,” he said, adding the cost of the programme will be cheaper than having an uneducated workforce.
The President said the over 36,000 junior high school students (JHS) who could not qualify to secondary school will be made to resit the papers they trailed.
This, President Akufo-Addo said will ensure that no child is denied access to quality secondary education in the country of their birth.