Free Senior High School popularly dubbed “Free SHS” is a policy implemented by the government of Ghana to include collective access to senior high education to all and sundry with no regard to their financial background and various limitations that might hinder their senior high education as enshrined in the constitution of the Republic.
However, there are two schools of thought on the Free SHS policy, where one school of thought feels it has lots of advantages for the average Ghanaian while the second school of thought feels the disadvantages outweigh the advantages.
You can read more about the policy on their official website: http://freeshs.gov.gh
This article seeks to demystify the merits and demerits of the policy and highlights the impacts of the policy on education.
Advantages of The free SHS
Since its implementation, a lot of improvements have been recognized in the nation’s education and literacy rates. Below are some detailed advantages of the policy;
- Increased access to Education: the policy has helped in the surge of the school-going population to have access to senior high education without limitations such as financial constraints or background which helps a large number of the population by removing cost barriers borne by parents and absorbing fees approved by the Ghana Education Service Council. In a nutshell, one could attend senior high school without having to worry much about the cost involved in secondary school education.
- Additionally, the free SHS policy has improved the quality of education which is courtesy of the Government’s continuous investment in developing the policy by improving the infrastructure, and textbooks and making sure students who are products of this policy do not only have access to just education but also come out with a quality one that will enhance their education. With more funding, a conducive environment can be enhanced in the second high schools to improve not just access but the end product and environment as well. With the current political system in the country where the minority tries hard to write off and look down on any policies implemented by the majority, and vice versa, the current majority is trying everything in their power to make sure they stand right with the populace with regards to this policy.
- Furthermore, the Free SHS policy has reduced dropout rates in the country. In some years back most students drop out of the second cycle due to financial constraints. However, the Free SHS policy has taken that part off a lot of parents where parents or guardians have to just take care of other personal items of their ward reducing dropout rates sharply. Ghana has relatively low dropout rate in recent times which in turn helps in mitigating some social vices such as prostitution, armed robbery, and streetism among other disturbing menaces which might in turn drag the country backwards.
- Likewise, Free SHS helps in increasing employment opportunities among the population, especially with the revision of the school policies to include more skill-oriented courses instead of sticking to the 3R-type of education which includes reading, writing, and arithmetic. However, the increased education among the population has also increased the literacy level of the population hence increasing the quality of the population’s working skills. The Free SHS policy has seen a lot of the populace employed in various sectors of the economy and boosting the country’s production rates at various levels and in turn positively affecting the country’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP) rate.
- For the most part, free SHS has increased the country’s social mobility by allowing a lot of the populace to climb up the social ladder without having to be hampered by various limitations that militate their success in life. The country, Ghana is structured in a way that with even the SHS certificate can get good employment opportunities with an average salary to cater for their needs without dependants. Good but needy students who excel at this level also have access to an array of scholarship programs that helps them to climb higher in their aspirations to pursue what they love at the higher level.
Disadvantages of The Free SHS
Although it has been complimented for being a good initiative, the Free SHS policy has also received multiple backlash from people for its failure in several sectors. Nonetheless, There’s also another school of thought that believes that the demerits outweigh the merits discussed above which include:
- First and foremost, the Free SHS policy has increased the cost to the government. The other school of thought on the con side of the Free SHS believes strongly that free SHS has increased costs to the government. The “Free SHS” is not free, or we should say no education is free because the staff and the building expenses had to be paid. So if we are talking about free SHS education, then those expenses of the staff and supplies have to be paid. If the government is making the Senior High School, free then that means they are cutting their budget off from somewhere else to make up for the education. What if that budget is cut from the economic development to cater to this free SHS? You already see the gloomy picture it paints.
- Secondly, the Free SHS has also brought about overcrowding in the various second-cycle institutions with its concomitant effect being students not getting the needed the attention they need sometimes. Going to Senior High School in Ghana is a special privilege meaning one will get to create a career path in a specific chosen field and also get to prove themselves worthy of further education.
- Mass education which includes this free SHS will encourage the student to feel even if they don’t put in any special effort in securing their place, they’re still guaranteed second-cycle education because it is free and accessible to all which will adversely affect the number of students that come out of this free SHS education aside the brilliant students having to put in extra efforts to excel due to the student to Teacher ratio due to the number of students enrolled into the program every year.
- Additionally, the Free SHS has put pressure on teachers which ties into our earlier point discussed about students having less qualified teachers with the ratio of students to teachers overwhelming in this regard as well. The government has rushed the policy because more qualified teachers have not been hired to meet the demand of students towards the yearly enrolment we see every year.
- Of what value is free when it can’t guarantee quality due to the low teacher to students ratio? employing more teachers will also mean more strain on the government’s budget which we discussed earlier. For this reason, we can comfortably say the policy has been rushed and priority must be given to quality instead of quantity. Every country that has practiced mass education has failed in a way.
- For the most part, this school of thought also believes the Free SHS policy undermines the quality of education being rolled out to students. Everything that is earned has its greatest value. Imagine something that is given to students for free with no effort at all, then maybe the worth of that thing is very less. This can be seen in education as well. If SHS education is free for everyone, students may take it very easily.
Secondary school education is something that demands hard work, commitment, and dedication. All of this is sparked by the effort being put to get inside. Every student who has the idea of the struggle being put to get a certificate that propels them to higher education then they will always value the education they are getting, and their certificate will be worth it. But for now, the policy undermines the quality which is an earworm to not just parents but concerned citizens as well.
In a nutshell, education cannot entirely predict your true potential because sometimes people have still ended up being better even without a formal education. But its importance can also not be denied because it gives all the enlightenment and the polishing one needs to be more efficient and effective in their chosen field.
You can easily polish your skills and get your idea a better finishing by the education of the method given to you. It is a blend of theory and practical both that senior HIgh school provides to students that helps them excel in whatever organization they will be working on later or even discover themselves for higher learning.
However, we those on the pros side of the coin believe the free SHS education policy has increased access to education, improved the quality of education, reduced dropout rates, increased employment rates, and has also increased social mobility in the country thereby closing the gap between the rich and the poor, however those on the con side of the coin also believes the policy has increased government’s expenditure or cost, has overcrowded the various second cycle institutions available, has also brought about high students to teacher ratio as well as decreasing the quality of education and therefore regarding it is a misplaced priority at the time.
Let us know your thoughts in the comment section, we will be glad to read them.