Sustain free SHS with more day schools, not boarding – Patrick Awuah

President of Ashesi University, Patrick Awuah, believes that one of the best ways to sustain the government’s Free Senior High School programme is to focus on having more day schools instead of the boarding system.

Speaking on Citi TV’s current affairs program, the Point of View, Mr. Awuah said:”I think the boarding schools are serving an important purpose because now we do not have enough Senior High Schools but all new high schools that are built should be day schools, and they should be as close to communities as possible so it will be just a walking distance or a short bus drive away from the kids. If you do it that way, you have a much more sustainable system”.

The government implemented the free Senior High School program in September 2017, in fulfillment of a major campaign promise in the run-up to the 2016 election.
There have however been some challenges with funding and logistics since the programme took off.

Fund-raising system

Aside the establishment of day schools, Mr. Awuah further proposed the establishment of a voluntary fundraising programme within the school system, which will allow people to contribute towards the policy voluntarily.

“Free SHS is a done deal. It is happening, and I do not see it reversing. Now the question is how do we make it sustainable and how do we make it high quality. One of the ways to make it sustainable is to develop a fundraising capability within the schools, asking people to contribute funds to the institution, not mandating them voluntarily.”

“Another way to make it sustainable is to do what most high schools in the world that are free do; which is they are not boarding schools. If you go to any country that has 100 percent enrollment in high school, those are not boarding schools. Yes, there are a few boarding schools, but the vast majority of schools are day schools so that the state is not building dormitories, buying beds, feeding kids ” he said.

Voluntary education fund

In 2017, the government had indicated that it was in the process of setting up a fund to receive voluntary contributions from individuals to support the implementation of the free SHS programme and the education sector as a whole.

This was disclosed by the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta when he presented the 2018 budget statement.

Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta

Ghana’s education sector has been saddled with inadequate infrastructure and teaching materials, low pay for teachers particularly at the basic and SHS level.

The implementation of the free SHS policy suffered some setbacks as well, as some schools were faced with the challenge of inadequate infrastructure among others.

The government had indicated that it will use proceeds from the oil revenue to support the programme.

By: Marian Ansah/citinewsroom/Ghana

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