July 25, 2024

Who will be buying charcoal? The flaws in the free SHS

flaws in the free SHS

flaws in the free SHS

Who will be buying charcoal? The flaws in the free SHS

The government of Ghana (GoG) has introduced an ambitious national policy, the free Senior High School (SHS). The national rollout of the policy started in September 2017. The objectives of the policy have all the good intentions for any national development. But there are several flaws in the free SHS policy.

Nature of the free SHS policy

The free Senior High School policy was rollout to eliminate the payment of any fee to access secondary education in the country. Some of the fees that used to be paid are tuition fees, utility fees, sports fees, culture fees, PTA dues, feeding fees in the case of boarding students, and fees associated with uniforms, exercise books, notebooks, etc.

The introduction of the policy saw the total elimination of all the fees mentioned above. School management is expected to collect any money from the students.

Even some of the prospectus students for students who are required to be brought to school are not expected to be sold by any staff of any senior high school. Some of such prospectus include tools like cutlass and hoe, brush, etc.

According to the Ghana Education Service (GES), the reason for banning staff from selling prospectus to students is to avoid conflict of interest. Especially when such an action can be construed by the public that it is sanctioned by the government. This can be considered the first flaw in the free SHS since staff sometimes refer freshers to their shops outside campus to purchase such materials.

Objectives of the free SHS policy

The main objectives of the policy include
1. Increased access to education
2. Improved quality of education
3. Improved educational outcomes

The flaws in the free SHS has reflected in the main objectives of the policy. The flaws in the free SHS policy can mostly be seen in some categories of schools. Also, the flaws in the free SHS affect some categories of learners and parents. Though there might be a general improvement in the objectives at the national level

Feeding of day students versus boarding students

The free SHS policy is intended to fundamentally take away all the costs associated with secondary education. It is, for this reason, all cost components at the secondary education level have been taken care of by the government. Any cost that was payable by both day students and boarding students has been canceled.

Boarding students have the extra benefit of being fed three times a day free of charge while at school. Day students however have the chance of being fed only once, launch, a day.

Interestingly, during first break, boarding students heard towards the school dining hall for their free breakfast. Day students must move towards the school canteen to buy their food during the same break. Citizens of the same country are being treated differently based on the computer placement of students into boarding schools or day schools. And based on the computer placement deciding the status of students in the same school as boarding students or day students.

The main flaw in the free SHS policy on the basis that the day students would have been fed (breakfast) by their parents at home before coming to school. This is because boarding students equally are provided with provisions by their parents or with money to cater for their breakfast before class begins.

Utility bills advantage

The utility bills have been taken care of by the government supposedly for all students. However, the truth is that boarding learners have the chance to benefit more in terms of utility bills. While the electricity and water usage by boarding students are well paid for by the government, parents have to bare the cost for their wards who are day students.

The age bracket of secondary school students is between fourteen (14) years old and nineteen (19) years old. The age bracket of the learners means it would be an inconvenience for parents to share a small unit of accommodation with their wards. The wards leaving for boarding school would provide some respite for the parents. This will not be the case for day students. Parents would have to fund an extra unit for their wards otherwise they must bear the inconvenience.

See also: Anger over B4 history book in Ghana: Debatable 6 negative effects of religion

The flaws in the free SHS

There are several flaws in the free SHS. The flaws can be seen in the design and implementation of the policy. The flaws affect mostly day students and day school. The resultant effect is the indirect financial loss to the state. In the end, avoiding or correcting the flaws in the free SHS would have delayed the country’s need for a bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

1. Economic injustice

A major flaw in the free SHS is the economic injustice being perpetrated on day students in the country. It is unjust and unfair to deny day students breakfast based on a computer placement. It is unfair for day students in boarding schools to watch their mates and siblings take free meals every day in the morning while they struggle to feed themselves only because the computer did not indicate boarding against their status during placement.

In the case of purely day schools, meals could be served easily to students. The proof is that some students in basic schools, which are not boarding, are being fed through the school feeding program.

2. Bribing and corruption.

Parents and students are rational beings. They will take decisions based on their conditions and the opportunities available to them.

It is a known fact that some students can change their placement status illegally. While some of the students can change their status from day students to boarding status, others can change their school from day school to boarding school.

It is also true that some students can change their schools and boarding status without any payment of money. However, it is an open secret that some people can change their schools and boarding status only after they have paid bribes. Promotion of bribing and corruption in the subconscious of the learners at that age must be a major flaw in the free SHS that will be detrimental to the overall aspiration of the country

3. Low enrollment in day schools

Parents and students consider day schools as a last resort. This is after they have done their possible best to change the status of their wards from day to boarding, including attempting to pay their way out of the day school.

This has resulted in low enrollment of students in days schools. There are some day schools that have about one (1) student for particular programs. A student enrolling in a program means the government must continue to pay teachers who teach that one or few students until they complete school.

No private employer will create a system that uses his or her resources in that manner. This must be a major flaw in the free SHS. Otherwise there is a disaster in the management of national resources. This is a financial loss to the state.

Sarcastically, the first argument or opinion anyone will get from parents to indicate their perceived flaws in the free SHS is clear. ‘Who will be buying charcoal and cassava dough’.

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3 thoughts on “Who will be buying charcoal? The flaws in the free SHS

  1. Thanks for insightfuĺ discussions regarding unequal treatment of day and boarding students. In addition, When is a free SHS not free? The SHS is not free because the students pay “bòok fees” purchasing of text books and other stationary in addition to, chair fees, clothes fees, PTA fees, hundreds of cedis for building staff bungalows, school fence walls, vacination fees etc. In all my nephew starting SHS had to 2500ghc of hidden fees for term one. Hardly two had passed when we had to “fly by” with emergency rations of Shito and gari plus another 400ghc spending money. The free meals were (alas) not sufficient at all.

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