The most anticipated policy of the New Patriotic Party(NPP) and the president of the republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Danquah Akuffo-Addo tipped to define the fate of the incumbent government going into the 2020 general elections is the Free SHS Policy which takes off from September 11, 2017.
The Free SHS policy, as espoused by the president, will cover the full fees of the students who will qualify to attend public senior high school in the country beginning from the 2017/2018 academic year.
According to the president, the Free Senior High School policy means, in addition to tuition fee which is already free, there will be no admission fee, no library fee, no science centre fee, no computer laboratory fee, no examination fee, no utility fee. There will also be free text books, free boarding, free meals for boarding students and a free meal for day students in school.
There will also be free text books, free boarding, free meals for boarding students and a free meal for day students in school.
How do we in Brong Ahafo Region embrace the Free SHS policy? Who are the Beneficiary schools in the region? What are the consequences on school administrators, caterers or food vendors, and students at large?
There are 92 Senior High Schools and 15 Technical and Vocational Institutes in Brong Ahafo Region. Out of the 92 Senior High Schools 69 are public schools and 23 are private schools.
According to the West African Examination Council, 468,053 candidates registered to write the 2017 Basic Education Certificate Examination across the country for which 43,744 are from the Brong Ahafo Region.
The Computer School Selection and Placement System will place candidates into their qualified school of choice whether public SHS or private SHS. However, it must be made known to parents and the public at large that students who will be placed in the private SHS would not benefit from the Free SHS Policy.
This must be made public for the comprehension of all parents and the general to pre-empt any chaos and repetition of same which met the initial implementation of the Computer Schools Selection and Placement System.
With respect to the public schools, we anticipate an increased enrollments especially for boarding schools like Sunyani Senior High School (SUSEC), Yamfo Anglican Senior High School (YAMSEC) just to mention a few. We pray that the administrators of the public senior high schools to embrace themselves for the challenges ahead.
However, the challenges for the public day schools like Twene Amanfo Senior High and Technical School (TASTEC) would not be just enrollment. Their major challenge would be feeding of the students. This is a new challenge to all day schools in the country and Brong Ahafo in particular.
According to the Free SHS policy, day students are to be given a meal in school. The schools will be faced with the challenge of procuring the services of caterers for the provision of the meals to the day students. What would be the fate food vendors who had provided services to day students these schools up to date?
Would they be considered, trained and resourced to provide the needed services or it would be business as usual, an opportunity to create jobs for party faithfuls who will, as a known axiomatic fact, provide sub-standard service to the schools with impunity. In either case, the decision makers are being watched and are expected to go beyond partisan political considerations to render professional service to Ghanaians.
In either case, the decision makers are being watched and are expected to go beyond partisan political considerations to render professional service to Ghanaians.
Another major consequence of the implementation of the Free SHS Policy, which must be made known to the public especially parents and students is that, the policy will cover only the new entrants who sat for the 2017 BECE.According to the sector minister,
According to the sector minister, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, only candidates who sat for the 2017 BECE and meet the entry requirements of their school of choice would be admitted to benefit from the Free SHS Policy with effect from September 2017.
It must also be stated that any student who is repeated in SHS one, though part of the first year students of the 2017/2018 academic year, shall not benefit from Free SHS Policy.
More importantly is the fact that students who are going to enjoy the policy must be ready and willing to learn in order to continuously enjoy the Free SHS Policy. This is because any student who fail to pass the end of year examination for the 2017/2018 academic year shall cease to enjoy the policy for the periods in which the student is repeated.
Writer: Henry Osei Karikari (tutor)
Yamfo Anglican Senior High School