The Member of Parliament for Kwesimintsim, Prince Hamid Armah, has called for constructive criticism of the Free Senior High School policy, adding that people should desist from undermining it.
The MP, in an article, ‘Free SHS saga-ignoring the noise, acknowledging the challenges’, addressed criticisms of the policy, saying the benefits of the policy far outweigh the negatives and that Ghana will be the ultimate beneficiary in some years to come.
He cautioned that when that happens, everyone must remember the role they played and the positions they took during the infant years of the policy.
Though he said there is nothing wrong in criticising the policy, he added that such criticism must be one that will “build up” the policy and not “tear it down.”
Dr Armah, who is also the Deputy Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Education on Committee on Education believes some naysayers never wanted the policy to succeed and are looking for ways to justify their opposition.
He expressed concern that “we can have a former minister of education accuse young people of cheating in an international examination merely because their performance laid waste to the doom song she and others had been waiting to sing”.
His comments come a week after the Free SHS policy had made headlines, with some students, parents, teachers, heads of schools, and political party bigwigs expressing their opinions on the policy which has been implemented over the last four years.
Some of the policy critics are alleging the policy will reduce the quality of education largely because of the double-track element involved.
Some parents also claim that even though the policy is supposed to be free, they are having to spend a lot on extra classes. They would rather the policy was scrapped entirely or that government targets the policy at people who cannot afford it.
Dr Armah noted that even though the Akufo-Addo government kept faith with the promise to implement the policy and, within nine months of its tenure in office, implemented it, the critics are still unrelenting in their condemnation of the biggest policy.
“From day one, many of our citizens have sadly sought to find and promote adverse news about Free SHS and where none were available, some have been happy to create some. We were warned by the doomsayers that Free SHS would compromise the quality of secondary education,” he stated.
Quality of education
Dr Armah added that claims that the double track policy had reduced the quality of education are untrue.
“Available data suggest that this innovation alone doubled enrolment at double track schools, allowing nearly two hundred thousand students into the secondary school system in the first year of implementation alone. It can be argued that while both the traditional agrarian calendar and double track have been proven empirically to be beneficial to students, double track appears to be more favourable to students from disadvantaged backgrounds, the very group who stand to gain the most from the Free SHS policy,” Dr Armah explained.
He said despite the challenges of the Covid-19 era, government has remained faithful to the policy and has disbursed a total of ¢1.97 billion for the implementation of the policy this year, which is a significant increase from the ¢400 million it spent in the very first year of implementation.