Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia has noted that the Free Senior High School policy introduced by the Akufo-Addo-led government is to broaden the gates of opportunities to every Ghanaian child, regardless of his family’s economic status.
According to Dr Bawumia, the Free SHS policy is grounded in President Akufo-Addo’s firm belief that it is wholly unacceptable for any child to be denied the opportunity of a senior high school education for the sole reason that his or her family cannot afford it.
“To ignore such children is to plant a crisis on our hands. Planting a bomb is a recipe for an explosion in the future. A confident, educated, skilled citizens is vital to any nation’s development prospects
“It is our unwavering belief in education as key to national development that informs our resolve to implement one of our flagship policies as a government, the Free Senior High School policy,” he added.
The Vice-President said this yesterday at the President’s Independence Day Awards ceremony held in Accra, where he presented awards to 36 deserving students from across the country who emerged as the best Junior High School graduates of the 2018/19 academic year.
The awardees included two hearing-impaired and two visually-impaired students.
The President’s Independence Day Awards, since its inception in 1993, continues to provide scholarships each year to young brilliant students, between the ages of 14 and 19, from all the regions of Ghana. The awardees are selected based on raw scores obtained at the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE).
Dr Bawumia recalled that, every year between 2013 and 2016, an average of 100,000 children who passed the BECE and were placed in SHS did not take up their places.
“That translated to about 30-32 per cent of all BECE candidates. The evidence suggests that financial barriers were key in these worrying statistics.
“Our Free SHS policy, which President Akufo-Addo launched in September 2017, was primarily to remove such barriers by providing every Ghanaian child with the opportunity of an SHS education. In the first year of the Free SHS policy, the rate of students who did not enroll after being placed fell to about 17 per cent, from the annual average of 30 per cent. This is a huge improvement by any standard,” he emphasised.
According to Dr Bawumia, the total number of students enrolled in senior high schools has shot up to 1.2 million since the inception of the Free SHS programme.
“We have therefore witnessed a phenomenal rise of over 400,000 more students accessing senior high school education,” he added.
Shedding more light on the ongoing reforms in the education sector, Vice- President Bawumia indicated: “We are introducing reforms to teacher education and training because the teacher is at the centre of any education reforms. We have also introduced the teacher licensure regime aimed at professionalising teaching and bringing it in line with international best practices.
“Further, having completed a review of the KG and primary curriculum and having rolled the new curriculum out in September 2019, government is in the process of reviewing the JHS and SHS curricula, with a view to ensuring that our teaching and learning methods and content reflect the realities of the 21st century.”
He added that government has also introduced intervention programmes in senior high schools to enable teachers support the final year students in their subject areas as they prepare for the West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE).
“In 2019 we spent GHS 56m on this and we intend to repeat same this year. Indeed, senior high school teachers are currently undergoing training at workshops in selected centres across the country, particularly for subjects that are generally considered as ‘difficult’,” he said.