The much desired Ghana Free Education is finally here, but not without its numerous challenges on various angles. From the initial challenge of finding placements for the teeming junior high school graduates into senior high schools to the present problem of overpopulation, the Ghana Free Education program has got Ghanaians really busy.
Reports coming from the various regions and corners of the country, is telling the woes of both public and private senior high schools, with the former lamenting population explosion and the later “no students”.
A lot of Senior High Schools have seen almost double the number of students they requested from the CSSPS, with their private counterpart not witnessing up to half their usual numbers.
At the Abuakwa State College and Ofori Panyin Senior High Schools, hundreds of prospective students were turned away as a result of inadequate classrooms, dormitories and shortfall of other facilities.
Worsening the situation is the fact that about 95% of the new students want to live in the boarding house, obviously to enjoy 100% of the Ghana Free Education benefits. For instance, Mamfe Methodist Girls’ SHS reportedly turned away over 400 students due to inadequate dormitory facilities to accommodate the students.
Admit Every Student!
To the greatest dismay of Senior High School authorities in the Eastern Region in particular, the Regional Minister and the Regional Education Director, directed that all students must be admitted.
In addition, the East Akyem Municipal Education Director, Elizabeth Amankwaa who visited some of the schools in the Eastern region Municipality instructed that they admit every student posted to their schools.
Elizabeth Amankwaa directed the School authorities to admit every student placed regardless of the infrastructural challenges, to avoid them being accused of sabotaging government. She however, suggested that those residing close to the school be admitted as day students to create boarding space for those coming from afar.
“Because it is free, everybody wants to enjoy the boarding facility, but those in this community and around must be made to understand to be day so we admit those outside as boarders… So please stick to the list provided and admit everyone so that nobody is accused of sabotaging government. Even if you will turn some classrooms into dormitory or they sleep on veranda,” she stressed.
Private Schools Lament
While public senior high schools are over flooding with a crowd of prospective students, the private schools are reported to be high and dry, with very few students trickling in to seek admission.
One of the notable private high schools in Kumasi, the Mighty Royal Senior High School, is one of those affected, as the school is said to have received fewer first-year students this new session.
Head teacher of the school, Mohammed Nurudeen, told Citi News who visited the school that the possible negative effects of the free SHS on private schools were not considered before the implementation of the policy.
“I am saying this because a government which has promised to revamp the private sector, in the course of rolling this programme, they should have considered the private schools; as in posting some of the students to the private school.”
He suggested further that government should have at the least, “subsidized the fees or pay and absorb all the fees because they are all Ghanaian children and we are all Ghanaians.”
Mohammed Nurudeen who described the free SHS “as one of the ways killing the private sector,” noted that the number of students currently seeking admission in his school has dwindled drastically because of the policy.
In a similar case, the Proprietor of City Senior High School at Target, Musah Sulemana, indicated that, they are currently faced with the big problem of getting fresh students.
Sulemana noted that since schools resumed, the private senior schools are not getting students in terms of admissions. he therefore appealed to government to address their concerns to prevent them from folding up.
Include Us in The Free Education!
The Conference of Heads of Private Second Cycle Schools (CHOPSS), has expressed disappointment with the effect the Free SHS policy is having on private schools, demanding that government expands the program to include private schools to save them from possible collapse.
Addressing the press in Accra on Wednesday, the National Secretary of CHOPSS, Joseph Dzamesi, lamented the possible loss of millions of Ghana cedis invested in their schools, as well as the plight of over 10,000 workers who are employed in the affected schools.
They therefore requested that government includes private SHSs among the schools listed on the self-placement website, to enable students who are not happy with their placements or those who couldn’t find schools they like to make choices from private schools.
“Our schools should be tagged private and the parents should be informed that when a private school is selected, the students would have to pay the school fees,” Mr. Dzamesi stated.
Explaining how extending the free SHS policy to private schools can be implemented, Mr. Dzamesi suggested that the amount of money earmarked per student to attend senior high school be granted to the student, leaning parents with the choice of enrolling the child in a government school or making up the money to send him or her to a private school.