Paying fees is a better option than free SHS in its current state – Parents contend
Parents, who were contributing to discussions on the Super Morning Show, Tuesday, May 25, preferred a return to payment of school fees to having their children continue under the free SHS programme. This is due to lapses in the rollout of the policy.
According to one of the listeners, Nana, a mother who has two of her children enrolled in a Senior High School, she spends about GHc8,000 each, on providing her son and daughter, who are on the Green and Gold tracks respectively, private lessons, to cover up for what they miss in school.
“When they started my boy was in the green track and the girl was in the gold track. I had issues with conscientising the girl to understand and to accept her state since her brother had started school and she hadn’t and it was creating issues for them at home.
“I realised my girl was lagging behind and the boy was far ahead of her because she was on the gold track and the green trackers were benefiting more than the gold trackers. So, I went in for teachers to assist with extra classes and I had to pay for that. It cost me 2,000 cedis per course and she had to take up four courses,” she said.
“It got to a time, I had to stop because the financial burden was too much so anytime they vacated, I have them enrolled in the normal classes which were organised by their schools. And with that, I had to pay 500 cedis each and if I’m not able to send them to school, I have to give them like 25 cedis each, a day, before they can attend the class,” she added.
Another caller, who identified himself as Kojo, also raised the same concern, stating that, he pays 350 cedis on extra classes for his ward added that his son has taken just one terminal exam since he enrolled in school.
“In fact, the free education is causing we parents much problems. Currently, as my son is at home, I pay not less than 350 cedis every month for classes and besides, I have to buy data of not less than 60 cedis every week.
“And the interesting aspect is that, since he started school he has written exams only once. We were told that they were preparing to write their end-of-term semester exams but suddenly they were asked to go home and did not write the exam,” he added.
Other parents also raised concerns over the quality of food, accommodation, and tuition provided to their wards. According to a parent, students in a school her ward has enrolled in, have to sleep on the floor since the school has no bunk beds for them to fix their mattresses in.
On the other hand, some parents lauded the policy, stating that, it has given children of the average Ghanaian, who will otherwise not have access to Senior High School education, the opportunity to be educated.
That notwithstanding, they called on the government to address the concerns raised and fix the loopholes in the policy for a robust Senior High School educational system.
Meanwhile, a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Economics at the University of Ghana, Dr. Ebo Turkson has proposed that for the Free SHS to survive in the long term, well-to-do parents should be allowed to pay the fees of their children.
According to him, this will reduce the financial burden on government to maintain the policy,
About the free SHS policy
The free Senior School Policy is among the Akufo-Addo led administration’s flagship programmes. It was introduced in 2017 to absorb the fees of students at the Senior High level and to reduce the financial burden on parents. However, some parents have complained that the system has rather compounded their financial burdens.
The double track system
Under the free SHS policy, students attend classes based on the double-track system which was introduced by the government to enable various senior high schools to admit more students and ensure that all students have access to senior high school education.
The Double Track System is in two sessions, thus, The Green Track and The Gold Track. The Green Track represents the first batch of students who would go to school for a semester and are later followed by the Gold Track students.
During the vacation period, students whose parents cannot afford to pay for private lessons will have to loiter about till school resumes. For those whose parents can, they have to spend about GH₵350 to GH₵500 each month to cover the cost of the extra classes.