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“Free education – relief for the less privileged”
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“Free education – relief for the less privileged”

phpYjsNXnAMThe socio-economic development of every country lies in education, writes Kenneth Gyamerah, 26, a Correspondent from Kumasi in Ghana.  Much has been done globally in the last decade to provide quality basic education for children as outlined by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, he notes, as he examines Ghana’s success and its plans to expand free education.

The Government of Ghana introduced a concept of free and compulsory basic education for every school-age child to be realised through the introduction of the Free Compulsory Basic Education programme (FCUBE)  launched in 1996.

The main policy goal of the FCUBE programme was to provide opportunity for every school-age child in Ghana to receive quality basic education by the year 2005. The Ghana Education Service (GES) developed the three broad implementation objectives to achieve the FCUBE goal: to enhance the quality of teaching and learning; to improve the efficiency in the management of the education sector; and to provide full access to educational services by empowering all partners to participate in the provision of education to all children.

The Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education was successfully implemented in the year 2006 together with the School Feeding Programme which aims to curb malnutrition among children aged five to ten years at the primary level of education.

Despite the challenges encountered, the government of Ghana committed to the successful implementation of this programme.

Currently, basic education in Ghana is universally free, accessible, compulsory  and resourced.

On the 11th of February 2017, the president of Ghana, His Excellency Nana Akuffo Addo announced that along with the free compulsory Universal Basic Education which is already in progress, the government will introduce a free secondary/high school education across the country from September 2017.

He asserts that by free senior high school education we mean that in addition to tuition which is already free, there will be no admission fees, no library fees, no science centre fees, no computer lab fees, no examination fees, no utility fees. There will be free textbooks, free boarding and free meals, and day students will get a meal at school for free.

Ghana has joined countries like Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda in offering free secondary education in Africa. Education is a basic right and no child should be denied access.

I believe  this policy is a step in the right direction because every child, no matter his or her socio-economic  background, can have access to secondary education.

I remember during my days in senior high school life was not easy for many students, especially those of us who came from under-served communities. I was lucky to secure a scholarship in the second year, but most of my classmates couldn’t continue because of the payment of huge school fees. After Basic education, many people with good grades couldn’t continue to the secondary school because of poverty. The dreams of many young people have not been accomplished because of the expensive nature of the secondary school education in Ghana.

This policy has given many parents and young people a sigh of relief and hope, because it’s the dream of every Ghanaian child to further their education and become useful to society. This awesome development will improve the rate of literacy in Ghana.

This policy will go a long way to helping people from less privileged communities to get the chance to stay in school and fulfill their dreams.

But as an educationist and advocate for Sustainable Development Goal 4, I think this policy has a potential threat, because quantity may not necessarily mean quality. For this policy to work effectively without damaging the quality aspect of education in Ghana, feasibility should be mapped out well. Also, implementation should be on a pilot basis at some selected schools for the first term of the academic year, to see how effectively the policy will work before it is spread across the entire country.

I believe the goal is to ensure free, accessible and quality secondary education. At this point in time,  advocacy must  be carried out to the relevant authorities to ensure that modalities are put in place to guarantee quality in educational delivery alongside the quantity of education. The free senior high school policy should match with quality teachers and availability of updated teaching and learning materials.

Enrollment in the various public senior high schools will increase tremendously, and it is the responsibility of the Ghana Education Service to recruit additional competent teachers who will help in ensuring quality secondary education in the country.

Moreover, the government should expand the infrastructure in these schools so that they can admit more students. This policy calls for the need to ensure quality teacher development and good conditions of service, because if the welfare of the Ghanaian teacher is not attended to, it can be a detriment to the quality education we are working towards to achieving in 2030.

I always believe that when ordinary people are empowered and given access to  education, they will become a great asset to development of their communities and countries. It is time for developing countries to embrace change by ensuring that every child has access to quality education.

As education advocates, we should work together to checkmate the successful implementation of the policy. Quality and equitable access to education in Ghana is a shared responsibility. Ghana will work again.

Reach me on Twitter:@kennethgyamera

Photos courtesy of Ghana Education Service

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About me: I am a youth activist, writer and a professional teacher.

I am an enthusiast on all issues concerning youth, and feel fulfilled through engaging in policy related discussions and deliberations on youth empowerment and development. I am passionate about organising for a global youth agenda, and want to be the voice for the less privileged in Ghana.

My interests lie in advocacy, writing and teaching, which has led to involvement with a number of global youth-related organizations.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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