Free SHS takes off with excitement, challenges

Students carry chop box and other items to school

Parents and guardians of first-year students benefiting from the free senior high school (SHS) policy on Monday thronged the various SHSs across the country to register their children and wards.

The first day of registration, which also coincided with the take-off of the government’s flagship educational programme, was not without challenges.

Challenges with network, lack of prospectus and large numbers of students created some scenes in some of the schools, while other schools went through the registration exercise smoothly.

Under the free SHS policy, about 400,000 Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) candidates who qualified for admission to SHS are expected to enjoy free tuition, textbooks, meals, library usage, admission, examination, uniforms and Students Representative Council (SRC) dues.

To ensure the successful implementation of the policy, the government, on September 8, 2017, released GH¢280 million out of the GH¢486 million required for the flagship programme.

In the run-up to the 2012 and the 2016 general elections, the New Patriotic Party (NPP), led by then candidate Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, made free SHS a major campaign promise.

President Akufo-Addo will officially launch the policy at the West Africa SHS at Adenta today.

To ensure smooth registration processes, the schools assembled all parents and guardians in their assembly halls, where they took the latter through the various processes.

Although parents and guardians were seen in long queues in some of the SHSs visited by the Daily Graphic, they expressed deep satisfaction with the entire registration process.

School visits 

Though many of the parents expressed satisfaction with the efficiency of the process, some expressed worry that their children were to be day students, instead of boarders.

At the Wesley Grammar School at Dansoman, the Headmaster, Mr Charles Kweku Baidoo, was seen patiently attending to and directing desperate parents to the school’s notice boards to check their children’s names, as well as to the assembly hall to pick prospectus to go through the registration process.

Parents who could not find their children’s names on the notice boards were directed to the library to wait for their turn to be called to verify if their children had been placed in the school.

Sharing his view on the registration process, Mr Kofi Korankye, a parent who had travelled from Kumasi to verify his son’s admission, commended the government for initiating the free SHS policy which he described as a timely pro-poor policy that would alleviate the struggle parents went through to educate their children in second-cycle schools.

He also praised the authorities of the school for the orderly manner in which they carried out the entire registration process, saying: “I am so pleased with the attitude shown towards parents by staff of the school, especially the headmaster.”

“This is something positive parents rarely see during admission periods each year,” he added.

Mr Bruce Arthur, a parent from Takoradi, also commended the staff of the school for showing positive attitudes towards parents.

“I am so impressed with the way staff of the school speak to worried parents,” he said.