President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has expressed satisfaction with the Free Senior High School (FSHS) policy which after its implementation five years ago, has guaranteed Senior High School education for 1.6 million Ghanaian children.
The FSHS, which was introduced in September 2017, amidst cynicism about its transition and sustainability, President Akufo-Addo said “without any equivocation, I am very proud of the policy and its results thus far.”
Speaking at the 70th-anniversary celebration of the Tamale Senior High School (TAMASCO) in Tamale last Saturday, President Akufo-Addo said the experiences of developed nations had proven that the efficient way to create a just society with opportunities for all, was by investing in education and skills training of the youth.
“Without an educated populace, Ghana cannot transition from the status of a developing to a developed nation. It is the people of Ghana, Ghanaians like you and I, and especially the youth of today, who are going to build Ghana,” the President stated.
According to the President, the results of the 2020 and 2021 WASSCE results had vindicated him and give further evidence of the Free SHS policy introduced by the government.
“There were some who described Free SHS as “a waste”; some said it would “destroy our Ivy League Schools”, and some indicated that the policy was going to compromise the quality of senior high school education. None of these has happened,” President Akufo-Addo said.
The 2021 WASSCE results of the second batch of the FSHS policy has shown that 54.08% of students recorded A1-C6 in English, as opposed to 51.6% in 2016; 65.70% recorded A1-C6 in Integrated Science in 2021, as opposed to 48.35% in 2016; 54.11% recorded A1-C6 in Mathematics, as compared to 33.12% in 2016; and 66.03% recorded A1-C6 in Social Studies, as compared to 54.55% in 2016.
“Lest we forget,” President Akufo-Addo admonished, “the 2021 batch of students were the pioneers of the double-track system, which elicited a lot of vilification and unfounded criticism on its introduction.”
Another indication of the value of the Free SHS policy, according to the President, has been the dramatic increase in the percentage of students from TAMASCO, who had qualified to attend University.
“In 2015, it was 29.2%; in 2016, it was 31.4%; in 2017, it was 34.7%; in 2018, it was 31.3%; in 2019, it was 46.3%; and in 2021, it was 45.8%. Surely, Chairperson, there can no longer be any controversy about the validity of the Free SHS policy and its consequential measures. It is working,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo appealed to Ghanaians to forgo partisan, parochial considerations, which had conferred a little benefit, but agree that Free SHS has become part of the country’s educational architecture, “for, at least, a generation, if not forever. Our nation will be empowered and enriched.”
Reinforcing the government’s commitment to ensuring the provision of quality and relevant education, President Akufo-Addo said the government had introduced the teacher licensure regime to professionalised teaching, and brought it in line with international best practices.
So far, the National Teaching Council has issued some 129,000 licenses to teachers.
He said the construction of 20 Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) centres across the country, were at various stages of completion.
Additionally, out of the 1,119 projects, being constructed under the Free Senior High School Infrastructure Intervention, 657 have been completed, with some 2,718 vehicles procured and distributed by the Ghana Education Service.
President Akufo-Addo said the government would expand the Free SHS Programme to cover all first-year students in public TVET Institutes.
Rex Mainoo Yeboah, ISD