The Alliance of Special Equity and Public Accountability (ASEPA) is recommending to government through the Ministry of Education to ensure that there is a cut off points for beneficiary students of the Free Senior High School system before admission instead of mass enrollment of students from the junior high school to senior high school.
This to him, If a cut-off point of aggregate 30 is set for example and students are preconditioned that they have to make that grade else they cannot enjoy free SHS, it will bring some level of seriousness, urgency and commitment in the way learners take their studies at the basic level.
He emphasized that national development cannot be achieved without quality educations so Senior High School is supposed to continue and build on the foundations given to students at the basic level. “The cut-off point is necessary if we are to feed the SHSs with quality students who have the good foundation for SHS education to build on.”
To this regard the Executive Director of the Alliance of Social Equity and Public Accountability (ASEPA) Mensah Thompson, is has therefore appealing to government through the ministry of education to have a Cut-Off in admission into the secondary schools under the free SHS programme.
According to Mr. Thompson, some of large scale promotions of students from the basic school to the secondary school must be restricted and tailored for students who are poor and needy but brilliant.
Stressed that “there is no scholarship programme that is free for all and doesn’t have a cut off point or not based on performance. Students must be able to justify the money that the government or the state is spending on them to the academic performance. We want government to place a quota on free education, at least aggregate 30 once you don’t get grade you cannot enjoy free SHS and students must be told this right from the beginning when they enter JHS.”
On the issues of conjunction on the various campuses, the Executive director of ASEPA said government needs to liaise with the private Secondary schools owners and see how they can absorb the conjunctions.
To Mensah Thompson, government should give the private schools 30% of students who graduate every year to the private schools so that their business will survive because they create employment. He therefore urged government to collaborate with private school owners and he believes will help solve the double track system we find ourselves in as a country.
He claimed that because of the absence of cut-off points, most basic school students are not challenged to put much effort in their academic work. This is because they know that whatever grade they obtain in the BECE, it is highly possible they are going be placed in an SHS to enjoy free education. They are therefore not challenged to put in their best as they would if they knew they won’t enjoy free SHS if they don’t make a certain grade point.
Such students will go to SHS not prepared and with a weak grasp on fundamental concepts he/she was supposed to have before secondary education. Most of these students because of their poor academic background are hardly able to commit to learning at the SHS. They find it difficult adapting to learning and are mostly truants who are found engaging in recalcitrant behaviour.
The introducing cut-off points in selection of Basic Education Certificate Examinations (BECE) candidates to enjoy free SHS means that an aggregate score is going to be set as the lowest possible mark a student should obtain in the BECE before that student can be placed in a Senior High School to benefit from the free SHS.
Senior High School is supposed to continue and build on the foundations given to students at the basic level. The cut-off point is necessary if we are to feed the SHSs with quality students who have the good foundation for SHS education to build on.
He said if students are aware that they have to meet a certain grade point without which they will not be placed in SHS, they are going to be motivated to take their class lessons and personal studies seriously. An awareness of cut-off point before one enjoys free SHS will help solve truancy and lackadaisical attitude of some BECE candidates.”
Before free SHS, some grades were regarded as not good enough and it made BECE candidates sit up and take their studies seriously. But now grades ranging from 38 – 48 which previously never gave others opportunity to even pay fees to be in SHS are now found in free SHS.
The free Senior High School policy introduced by the NPP government led by Nana Akufo Addo started in September 2017. In this policy, every child in Ghana who qualifies for, and is placed in a public Senior High School for his secondary education will have his/her fees absorbed by the government.
The implementation of the free SHS policy has resulted in a massive increase in enrolment, making students who could not have continued their education after basic school having the opportunity to continue. The first batch of students to have enjoyed the 3 years free SHS were to complete June 2020 if not for the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Like any other policy, the free SHS needs continual evaluation, pruning and tweaking here and there to improve and make it better for the nation and beneficiaries. One area this article seeks to bring the attention of the handlers of free SHS to is the necessity of bringing back cut-off point in placing students in Senior High School for free education.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this publication do not in anyway reflect the opinions of State News Ghana