â€˜Free SHS students are not prisonersâ€™ â€“ MP shares video to show deplorable dormitory situation
Member of Parliament for Builsa South, Dr Clement Apaak, has said the challenges with the Free Senior High School programme has reached a head in schools across the country.
He is alleging that students are getting the same treatment in their dormitories as prisoners.
According to the Deputy Ranking Member on the Education Committee of Parliament, challenges such as inadequate space, erratic calendar, overburdened teachers, Inadequate and unwholesome food, coupled with a culture of silence among school heads is worsening the situation for students.
â€œWe have 11 videos and several pictures from various schools; headmasters and teachers have begged us not to use them or mention the schools for fear of vindictive reactions by the government! The one shared here, you notice is difficult to identify the school, and I will not tell you which school.
â€œThe videos are of crowded dormitories, classrooms, dining halls, etc. The pictures are same, including SHS students studying under trees,â€ he wrote on Facebook.
He has called on headmasters and parents to end the culture of silence and speak out about the deplorable situation on senior high school campuses.
â€œIf Headmasters and teachers can't speak to the challenges for fear of victimisation, including being sacked or transferred, parents ought to, before it's too late. Media houses could also do undercover investigations,â€ he urged.
The issue regarding the challenges students are currently facing under the Free SHS programme came up strongly on Accra-based Joy FMâ€™s Super Morning Show on Tuesday, May 25, 2021.
Parents who called into the morning show recounted their frustration as they strive to ensure that their children get a semblance of quality education in the face of the challenges.
One parent said she is paying more money on private studies for her ward who has been home for at least two months due to the Double Track system.
Another caller, who claims to be a headmaster, said the meals schools are compelled to serve to boarding students is appalling and not fit for consumption by even dogs.
The Free SHS programme was rolled out in 2017 amid concerns that the rollout of the policy that makes education at the Senior High School completely free.
The government pays for feeding, books, tuition among others as part of the programme, but with a boom in enrolment figures, the government is currently struggling to match up with infrastructure and other key amenities.
Some policy analysts had suggested to the Nana Akufo-Addo administration to stagger the universal free education policy and instead support the government budget for the programme with fees from willing parents.
The Akufo-Addo government has stood its ground on the policy, insisting that the challenges should be seen as part of the small price to pay for implementing a bold initiative.