The government of Ghana has been advised to convene a non-partisan national education forum to review the free Senior High School programme.
Very Reverend Emmanuel Aryee the Superintendent Minister of the Methodist Church, who gave the advice at the 67th Speech and Prize Giving Day of the St. Johns’ School in Sekondi, Western Region explained that it is the only way Ghana can tackle the problems associated with the policy.
In his response to the call, the Minister of Aviation, Kofi Ada who was the Guest of Honour for the Speech Day said the Free SHS has come to stay and the government will use every means possible to sustain it.
The 14th Founders’ and 67th Speech and Prize Giving Day celebration of the St Johns School in Sekondi, organized by the 79 and 89-year-old student groups was under the theme, Prospects of the Free SHS; The Role of Stakeholders.
The free SHS policy introduced in the first year of President Akufo-Addo’s first term in office, increased student population tremendously, thereby putting pressure on school infrastructure.
Not even the introduction of the double track system has fully addressed the problem.
The government has thus released funds for the expansion of infrastructure in various schools.
The Superintendent Minister of the Ebenezer Methodist Church of Madina, Accra, Very Rev. Emmanuel Aryee, also an Old Saint, commended the government for the free SHS program.
“The free SHS police introduced by the Akufo-Addo government is worth commending, but it is, however, important to concede that like all human policies when implemented, there are bound to be teething problems. Some are raising issues about quality and sustainability while others are suggesting that targeting could have helped in reducing the cost of implementing the programme. In addition, others are suggesting Public Private Partnership, PPP, in the implementation programme which will bring in the existing private Secondary Schools as a solution to the challenge of the infrastructural deficit,” he said.
The Minister of Aviation, Kofi Ada in a response welcomed the call with an assurance that the free SHS has come to stay.
“Free SHS is here to stay and that is a fact. It is here because it is going to help the young people who come from unfortunate backgrounds but have the potential to really help transform this nation. If it is here to stay then we all have the responsibility to make it work as the guest speaker talked about an educational forum.”
For the Headmaster of St. Johns’ School, Anthony Mensah, the old students have been the solution to the school’s many infrastructure needs.“Besides these projects undertaken and being undertaken by the old students, are others like the construction of the PTA sponsored 3-storey dormitory block, and the GETFund six-unit classroom and staff accommodation project which have all stalled at different stages of completion due to inadequate funding. We, therefore, appeal to the appropriate authorities to do well to complete these projects for us,” the headmaster said.
The Headmaster also added that the uncompleted GETFund teachers block has greatly affected teacher accommodation and supervision.
Deserving students and teachers were presented with various prizes. Refurbished laboratories and classrooms, basketball courts and other projects completed by Old Students were also commissioned.
In spite of the challenges outlined by the headmaster, St. Johns’ School has in the last 67 years of existence contributed to the development of many Ghanaians including Kofi Ada.