Opinion: The Free SHS Debate

By Victoria Lakshmi Hamah

The raging debate about Free SHS might be seen as A Tale Of Two Leaders; one who lost an election for his commitment to an empirical approach to policy options; and the other who got into office on the back of purely Machiavellian politics of giving the people whatever they want – even if it’s actually not the best policy for them.

Convincingly, the universal implementation of the Free SHS is seemingly bold and decisive; and yet it does not meet the basic requirements of effective policy development and implementation – and can thus be said to be a “Garbage Can Policy”, which has major problems that people are obviously disappointed in.

Clearly, John Mahama was inspired by more than the mere idea of winning the 2016 elections at any cost; hence his passionate and insistent warnings against the hurried universal implementation of Free SHS, and without a doubt, the obvious mess of the Double Track System evidently vindicates him. The avoidance of such conundrum underscored John Mahama’s approach to the progressive implementation of Free SHS programme.

A progressive implementation of Free SHS would have resulted in my opinion two significant gains; firstly, an adequate investment in the educational economy, and secondly, achieving equity in access, quality and gender stratification.

The subject of education still appears to be critical in the 2020 elections, and Akufo Addo and the NPP may seem to be making some populist gains from their Free SHS program. Unfortunately, such political expedience driven approaches to policies and programmes have been the bane of development of Ghana.

Nevertheless, in any day, a scientifically informed approach to our developmental challenges will win at the end; because from all indications, Ghana will continue to invest in the educational sector and that would unquestionably imply progressive investment.

So, I beg to ask, would the continuous investment in the educational sector in general and the Senior High School in specific not infer as a Progressive Free SHS?

Thus, John Mahama and the NDC are actually right after all; because the sustainability of our educational system, whether at primary, secondary or tertiary levels – will require progressive investments.

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