Professor Ato Essuman, Chairman of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), believes that free secondary education in Ghana will be meaningless unless it is accompanied by skill development for students.
Although he believes the concept of Free Senior High School (SHS) is admirable, his worry, however, is that it falls short of teacher development and providing students with the necessary skills for the world of work or further education.
Prof. Essuman said this as the keynote speaker at the 2023 edition of Achimota Speaks at the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences on Thursday.
The theme of the event was “The Governance, Management, and Financing of Secondary Education in Ghana.”
“The argument about free secondary education is about access and not enough about the content and the outcomes expected. Matters about skills development, teacher orientation, reorientation and training and development as well as new pedagogical approaches are less stressed. Clearly, fair attention to all these is likely to produce students ready to transition either to the tertiary level or the world of work.”
He continued to say, “the policy of making secondary education free and available to all is a lofty one but such a goal will be useless and needlessly expensive if all it does is to create opportunity and give young people access without the skills that will make them great assets for the nation development or otherwise, the problems would continue to compound.”
Prof. Essuman, who is also the Dean of Education and Entrepreneurship at Methodist University College in Ghana, poked holes in what he feels to be the poor implementation of free secondary education in the country.
This, he blames for the numerous difficulties that have beset such initiatives.
“Implementing free secondary education in Ghana may have been desirable if a gradualist approach and phased implementation of the program had been adopted. Learning from other countries’ experiences may have led to better management of the policy.
“With the problem of inadequate resources and delays in funds released to schools, a strategy for mean testing to target the poor and the vulnerable could have been adopted. I do not think that as a country we have many options.”