Parents' Contribution To The Free SHS Policy

The free Senior High School policy which was introduced by the government is a laudable idea considering the hustle and bustle that some parents have to go through to educate their wards. The policy gives parents the opportunity to send their wards to school free of charge without paying fees. It has come at a time when most parents find it difficult to send their wards to school due to the economic challenges in the country. The introduction of the policy has actually lessened the burden on parents. However, the sustainability of the policy should be looked at critically to help the growth of the nation. Considering Ghana's numerous resources, the introduction of the free SHS policy is long overdue. The question is, how do we sustain the programme? The funding of the policy by the government is good but alternative sources of funding should be found to sustain it. One way that the government can sustain the policy is to set up a Free SHS Trust Fund to enable philanthropists who are interested in education to contribute to the fund. This will bring on board agencies and individuals who have benefitted from the education system in Ghana to also contribute their quota. Research has shown that advanced countries like the United States, United Kingdom, Japan and Finland have prioritised education and this has helped them to develop.

To help ensure the quality of the free SHS policy, parents who are major beneficiaries of the programme should not shirk their responsibilities in the era of free SHS. Even though SHS is free, parents must continue to support their wards in school. As indicated by the Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast, Professor George Oduro during the Speech and Prize Giving Day of Obiri Yeboah Senior High School at Assin Fosu, he said, the survival of the free SHS policy is the responsibility of both parents and government. Parents must develop interest in what happens to their wards at school. They should try to visit their wards in schools and interact with their teachers on matters relating to their wards welfare and general conduct. The school is not a place where parents can dump their wards and forget about them. The policy can be effective if parents show commitment by providing the needs of their wards to improve their academic work.

The 1992 Constitution mandates parents to play a vital role towards their wards growth and development. It is therefore important for parents to help sustain the policy by ensuring that quality is not sacrificed for quantity. It is on the basis of this that the Ministry of Education and Ghana Education Service have to come out with guidelines for the collection of PTA and other voluntary levies to ensure the sustainability of the policy so as to put to rest, the misconceptions on the payment of levies in schools. Ghana's education system is believed to be one of the best in the World as it has produced renowned world leaders like the former United Nations Secretary, General Kofi Annan and the current Deputy Chairman of the African Union, Ambassador Kwesi Quartey. We must therefore make everything possible not to compromise the quality in the era of free Senior High School.

BY: DANIEL OTSIN, CIRCUIT SUPERVISOR, MUNICIPAL EDUCATION OFFICE, AKIM ODA, E/R.

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