By: Evans Attah Akangla| ignewss| Ho
The Education Workers Connect, an Education Policy Think Tank, has joined hands with the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) and other civil society groups to advocate for a thoughtful dialogue aimed at enhancing Ghana’s Free Senior High School (FSHS) policy.
In a statement to back their calls by GNAT on the public dialogue to review FSHS policy, the group outlined and based their reasons behind the call as a means of addressing issues such as quality, equity, remuneration, parental engagement, funding, and sustainability to the policy.
Given the number of solvable problems that have plagued the policy, they lamented that this call had come too late.
The Executive Secretary of the Educational Workers Connect, Daniel Yao Agbezudor, in a statement expressed concern over the government’s hesitation to start this debate, which has caused major worries considering the policy’s significant impact on the whole educational system.
“It is worrying and surprising how the government sees and regards genuine calls by stakeholders in the education space for a dialogue an act of condemnation of the policy and unfair criticism of same.
Regrettably, we have observed that the government is sacrificing quality on the altar of accessibility which is impacting negatively on the quality of education that our children are supposed to receive. Overcrowded classrooms, inadequate teacher-student ratios, and limited teaching resources challenge the delivery of quality education.” he stressed.
The group further stated that a thorough review of the policy is required to address the urgent concerns due to the rising indiscipline instances brought on by higher enrollment. Education must be equitable and inclusive in order to be effective.
The Education think tank underlined the need for a dialogue to examine the viability of a focused funding strategy, allowing for a more effective allocation of resources stakeholders to also consider the sustainability of the funding process and assisting education workers.
They further reminded the government to always remember that the success of the policy largely rests on the teachers hence the need for discussions on their wellbeing since it significantly influences quality education working conditions and welfare that impacts learning environment.
They asserted the importance of Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) in education sustainability.
“It is an undeniable fact that the role of parents in the provision of education globally cannot be over emphasized. Active PTAs have historically played a key role in the delivery of quality education. This is evident in the number of educational facilities and other supports in diverse ways, but the once vibrant and supportive PTAs have suddenly become dormant if not nonexistent in some of these schools.
Considering a dialogue to restoring parents’ involvement in the provision of infrastructure, character building, and provision of teaching materials to support the education, the government has doubled its burden with unfortunate situation due to the policy by government to take up those additional responsibilities from parents even though it is evidently clear that the government is unable to meet all these demands which is obviously affecting the quality of education.” they said.
Concerning the sustainability of the Free SHS policy, they asserted that it is undoubtedly hampered by financial difficulties.
They accused the government of failing to provide students with nourishing meals, allowing unacceptable delays in the delivery of food and educational supplies to the schools, paying staff members inadequately while they struggle to care for the students, and failing to provide exercise books, textbooks, and other teaching and learning materials.
The Educational Workers Connect suggested that diversifying educational opportunities through vocational training and technical education could complement the policy’s goals, adding that a re-evaluation of initiatives like the STEM project could ensure broader reach and effectiveness.
They urged the government to embrace dialogues and reject a dismissive stance towards concerns surrounding the Free SHS policy.
“The willingness to engage in discussion reflects a commitment to education and national development. Accept divergent views on how to better a good policy as the Free SHS is not a sign of failure hence Education Workers Connect emphasizes the significance of constructive dialogue and proposes a comprehensive review of the Free SHS policy to elevate the quality, inclusivity, and sustainability of education in the country. By fostering an environment of open conversation and collaboration,” they said.