EIB Network Kwaku Baah Acheamfour writes: Free Senior High School Policy – An Expensive and Efficient Car that must not have poor tyres!

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Free Senior High School, Quality Education, Teacher First, Teacher First! (2008 NPP Campaign Song)

As I sat in my living room today after the official launch of the programme at the West African Senior High School in Accra  , the campaign song of the NPP with respect to the Free Senior High School started echoing and agitating my mind.

The theme and slogan song indicated what was going to be pivotal in the implementation process. The teacher was/is going to be the key ingredient.

The President did mention what he was going to do to improve teacher education in the country.

He mentioned the Teacher Trainee allowances and other teacher development schemes which basically target those to be trained as teachers .

My question is what government will do to improve the conditions of service of teachers ?

The teacher’s salary is nothing to write home about with many exhibiting apathy on the job.

To some, teaching is just a stepping stone or a stopgap measure even as they look for more fertile grounds to work.

If as a country we have realized that human resource development hence education is the way to go in improving the lots of Ghanaian youth, then we need to take a good decision about the instructors in the class room.

We are lucky as a country to have even holders of master’s certificates teaching at both basic and secondary levels which is good in the knowledge acquisition and dissemination process.

All things being equal, such teachers have a broader base of knowledge to assist the students to develop holistically with better appreciation of issues.

Canada was one time faced with this dilemma of bringing lasting improvement in the lives of its young and youth.

They realized that education was the key and so the country took a bold decision to restructure, revamp and improve the conditions of service of the teacher.

The salaries and other emoluments were so improved that it became a curse for the teacher to leave the classroom.

Now, in Canada, the teaching profession is one of the top jobs in the country. Teaching in Canada at all levels is as prestigious as law or medicine in Ghana.

We can do same here. With better conditions of service, we can now start licensing teachers with contract durations, setting benchmarks to guide and guard their actions and the profession to ensure the highest form of professionalism and efficiency.

Those who fall short of standards gets kicked out for more enterprising and efficient ones to enter the profession. With these measures, free education will achieve its intended purpose of grooming fantastic youth and professionals with the highest skills and training for the future.

I have had the chance of teaching at all levels of education and I dare say that a demotivated teacher is cancerous to the health of those under his tutelage.

Let us as a country try and avoid this cancer from spreading further.

Of course, teaching and learning materials must also not be left out of the equation.

Monitoring at the various schools must be strengthened to put the teachers on their toes while stopping the heads from using the schools and students as their profit making ventures as some are in the habit of billing students with “needless” books and other non essentials just to oil their pockets.

Students must be given relevant books not

“headmasters/mistresses profit- earning books” even when it is clear the students could do without such books or when such books have no or direct bearin on students course of study

Let me hasten to add that I am not against reading or reading wide. In fact, I am for it. What I am against is heads using crafty and dubious means just to oil their pockets at the expense of the students.

These high bills could also push the child out of school despite free education!

Last but not least, parents must not hide behind free education to be irresponsible. The easing of their burden should make them more responsive and responsible to the needs of your ward(s). Its time to offer quality care to them .Spend wisely to benefit your wards! Save for their tertiary education as that is not free!

Lastly, government should be looking at solution to the inadequate boarding facilities that has become a major challenge in this year’s admissions as a result of the free education policy .

There are some wards whose education could be impeded despite free education as they or their parents will struggle in paying the high cost of transportation in getting to school and back home aside other negative occurrences that they could face in these journeys.

The issue ought to be addressed as early as possible as it is a a potential drain on the pocket of parents and wards. We should remember that some of the boys and girls even take care of themselves or finance their own education and shouldn’t be overburdened.

Mr. President, I commend you on this bold initiative which will help provide the best of future for our wards or youth. God bless you.

However, if the issues I have raised and others I could not raise in this write-up are not addressed, we may be back to square one in terms of the objectives we have set for the Free Senior High School Education.

We should not let this great programme be like an extensive car with poor tyres, it will definitely collapse on the road.

May that never be the story of this great and destiny changing programme. God bless us all.

Kwaku Baah-Acheamfour

Media Consultant, Broadcast Journalist and Academic

Email: cometomeson@gmail.com

Contact No: 0243170856

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