The Chairman of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), Professor Ato Essuman, has emphasized that free secondary education in Ghana will only be meaningful if it is accompanied by skill development for students.
Prof. Essuman, who was the keynote speaker at the 2023 edition of Achimota Speaks at the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences on Thursday, said although the concept of free SHS is laudable, it falls short of teacher development and providing students with the necessary skills for the world of work or further education.
“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 said.
The theme of the event was “The Governance, Management, and Financing of Secondary Education in Ghana.” Prof. Essuman, who is also the Dean of Education and Entrepreneurship at Methodist University College in Ghana, raised concerns over what he perceived to be the poor implementation of free secondary education in the country.
“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 means-testing to target the poor and the vulnerable could have been adopted. I do not think that as a country, we have many options,” he said.
Prof. Essuman opined that a 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 it only creates opportunities for young people without providing them with the skills that will make them great assets for the nation's development.