Professor Stephen Adei Raises Concerns Over Free SHS Programme Legislation

Educationist Professor Stephen Adei has expressed concerns about the practical implementation of the government’s flagship Free Senior High School (SHS) Programme, rather than its legislative backing. The former rector of the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) questioned the government’s decision to seek legislative approval after seven years of implementing the programme.

During an appearance on PM Express on Tuesday, Professor Adei noted, “What they’ve done for the past several years has not been illegal; it’s been by government policy and is acceptable.” His remarks come in response to Education Minister Dr. Yaw Adutwum’s announcement that the Free SHS Bill, 2024, will be presented to Cabinet for debate this week.

The proposed bill aims to provide legal backing for free and compulsory SHS education, along with several other significant changes to the education system. These changes include the restructuring of junior high school (JHS) and the cancellation of the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) as a prerequisite for SHS admission. Instead, the BECE would be used solely for school selection purposes.

Dr. Adutwum explained that, once passed, the certification for completing SHS would become the first formal certificate any student in Ghana could obtain, replacing the current BECE certification. “What we need is a law that says there should be free, compulsory universal secondary education. This means the minimum education for the Ghanaian should be a senior high school and not junior high school,” he said, emphasizing the government’s responsibility to provide the necessary support.

Despite these proposed changes, Professor Adei remains skeptical. He argues that while the policy is sound, the focus should be on refining its implementation rather than on legislating it. “There must be a reason why they want to bring in a law now,” he said, questioning the necessity of the proposed legislation.

Professor Adei suggests that the Education Ministry should consult with experts, stakeholders, and ordinary Ghanaians to improve the policy. “I’ve been in public service all my life until retirement, and this is a very weird way of doing policy,” he added, emphasizing the need for practical solutions over legal formalities.

As the debate continues, the focus remains on how to best ensure the success and sustainability of the Free SHS Programme in Ghana, balancing legislative action with effective policy implementation.

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