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‘Blanket’ Free SHS unsustainable – Prof. Addae-Mensah


A former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, has called for a review of the Free Senior High School (SHS) Programme, saying the current financing regime is not sustainable. 

Emeritus Professor Ivan Addae-Mensah said the cost of the Programme should be shared between the Government and “better endowed members of society” to ensure equity. 

Delivering the 2022 “Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Lecture” of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences (GAAS) in Accra, Prof. Addae-Mensah, who is also a Fellow of the Academy, appealed to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to heed to calls for a relook at the policy. 

He said a review of the policy “is not the same as abolishment” but would ensure quality education and improve standards. 

“I advocate that we rather go the Caribbean and Latin American way where those who can afford to pay for all or part of their education do so; proceeds from, which can then be used to support those who really are needy. 

“At least those who can afford it ought to pay for the feeding of their wards in boarding schools. Blanket free-feeding of all children is more likely to result in malnutrition,” Prof. Addae-Mensah said. 

The Free SHS policy is Government’s flagship education policy, which commenced in 2017 as a policy intervention to ensure that every Ghanaian irrespective of their background have access to free secondary education. 

Under the Programme, beneficiaries are provided with free tuition, accommodation, and feeding. 

Prof. Addae-Mensah stressed that the “blanket” provision of Free SHS could lead to large enrolment, adding that if adequate resources and facilities were not provided, standards could drop to the detriment of those who could not afford to enrol their wards in private schools.  

He said Ghana’s first President, Dr Kwame Nkrumah preferred free education up to the secondary level but “he was pragmatic enough not to introduce it at the time that he was in power.” 

“…If there is blanket provision of free education for everybody, and there is resultant increase in enrolment, there is the likelihood of population explosion, which not properly handled can result in significant lowering of standards due to inadequate facilities, teaching, and poor teacher motivation,” Prof. Addae-Mensah said. 

Founded in November 1959, the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences is Ghana’s premiere learned society.  

Its aim is to bring together the highest level of intellectuals, experts, professionals in the country to constitute a “Think tank” in the Arts and Sciences. 

The Academy also advises the Government and other relevant bodies on issues of importance to national development. 

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