A former TESCON President of Kibi College of Education, Aaron Asante, has weighed in on the most talked-about policy under His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s government, the Free Senior High School Policy. He writes:

Access to quality education is a fundamental right that shapes the future of individuals and society as a whole. It is a cornerstone of national development, with Senior High School (SHS) enrollment playing a vital role in shaping the future of Ghana’s youth.

The implementation of Free Senior High School (FSHS) policies has been a transformative initiative in Ghana, aiming to improve access to education for all. This argument examines the impact of Free SHS policies on SHS enrollment rates under the leadership of President Mahama during the NDC era and President Nana Addo during the NPP era.

One significant disparity in SHS enrollment and educational opportunities between the Nana Addo and Mahama administrations was that during President Mahama’s tenure, Ghanaian students faced significant challenges in accessing quality education at the SHS level due to the absence of a Free Senior High School Policy. This led to a stagnation in enrollment rates and limited educational opportunities for thousands of students across the country. As a result, about 162,450 students were annually left behind from the 2016/17 academic year to the 2022/23 academic year enrollment rates, unable to pursue their academic dreams and aspirations due to financial constraints and systemic barriers that were not adequately addressed by the government. During the first six years of the Free SHS policy, an average of 422,940 students were enrolled annually, compared to an average of 260,490 annual enrollments in the six years preceding the policy (Source: Africa Education Watch).

In contrast, the Nana Addo administration’s introduction of Free SHS revolutionized access to education, leading to a remarkable increase in SHS enrollment from 813,448 in the 2016/17 academic year to about 1.3 million in the 2022/23 academic year. As we speak, proven and backed by data indicates that about 2.5 million students have so far benefited from the government’s flagship programme, the Free Senior High School Policy, since its inception in September 2017 (Source: Africa Education Watch).

Indeed, the sharp contrast between the educational landscapes under the Nana Addo and Mahama administrations highlights the missed opportunities and educational inequalities that persisted during the Mahama era. The lack of Free SHS policies and proactive measures to address financial barriers to education resulted in significant disparities in SHS enrollment and limited access to quality education for many Ghanaian students.

By comparing the transformative impact of Free SHS under the Nana Addo administration with the challenges faced during the Mahama era, it is important to prioritize access to quality education for all students and address systematic barriers to learning. There should always be the need to focus on implementing initiatives that ensure equitable access to education, support students from all backgrounds, and remove obstacles that hinder educational progress. The implementation of Free SHS is a proactive measure that promotes inclusivity, fairness, and excellence in the educational system, which has created a more level playing field for all students. Undoubtedly, Free SHS implementation is a very well-thought-out policy for the development and empowerment of Ghana’s youth amidst all the challenges, which gradually will be addressed.

Credit: Nana Kwasi Asare