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Africa Education Watch celebrates Free SHS full cycle

Accra – The Africa Education Watch, a civil society organisation, has commended government and educational stakeholders for third year full cycle of the free Senior High School (SHS) programme as the first batch prepare to complete.
A statement to the Ghana News Agency in Accra and signed by Mr Kofi Asare, Africa Education Watch Executive Secretary said: “We are very mindful, and indeed highly acknowledge the tireless efforts of officials of the Ghana Education Service and the Ministry of Education, the sacrifices of teachers in successfully operationalizing this programme.”
The statement said Free SHS enrolled over 300,000 of the mostly vulnerable children who were on the verge of exclusion from secondary education into secondary school.
It added that, “this increased the Junior High School (JHS) to SHS transition rate from an average 62 per cent in the past decade to about 90 per cent in 2020.”
The statement stressed on the need for quality assurance, financial sustainability and management efficiency looking at the anticipated increase in enrolment annually.
The statement also said, the COVID-19 effect, and the need to ensure balance in resource allocation across the various subsectors of the education system.
“The blank cheque approach to financing the free SHS does not assure of allocative and spending efficiency, especially for a country running the infrastructural expansion component of Free SHS on loans.
“Specific expenditures like procuring GHC75 million worth of calculators for finalists certainly cannot be sustained if we aim to achieve spending efficiency.
“Such unplanned expenditures should be the responsibility of parents and guardians,” it said.
The statement, however, bemoaned that the quality of basic education had suffered overtime due to low investments in the sector with the advent of the Free SHS.
It said this scenario, when continued would only worsen the current national situation where 70 per cent of primary six children cannot read and write.
The statement said: “Moving forward, we need to depoliticize the Free SHS programme and hand it over to the GES Secondary Education Division, who are not only professionals, but are paid by the tax payer to do just that.
“This will be a very important first step in rebranding the Free SHS programme as a national and not a New Patriotic Party programme”.