Eduwatch: Free SHS bill focuses on political legacy over sustainable reform


Africa Education Watch (Eduwatch), a leading educational policy think tank, has expressed concerns that the government’s proposed Free Senior High School (SHS) Bill appears to be more focused on political legacy than on creating sustainable educational reform.


The bill, set to be presented to Parliament, aims to formalize and ensure the sustainability of the Free SHS policy, a flagship initiative of the Akufo-Addo administration designed to remove financial barriers to secondary education by covering fees, textbooks, boarding, and meals.


Although the policy has been lauded for improving access to education, particularly for girls, Eduwatch contends that the timing and approach of the bill indicate a prioritization of political benefits over long-term educational improvements.


In an interview with Umaru Sanda Amadu on Eyewitness News on Citi FM, Eduwatch’s Executive Director, Kofi Asare, questioned the necessity of a new law for the Free SHS policy, noting that it was already encompassed by the Pre Tertiary Education Act.


“I am a bit lost because in December 2020, Parliament passed the Pre Tertiary Education Law, Act 1049, which was assented on 29th December 2020. This law includes Free SHS under section 3, stating that ‘Secondary education in its different forms, including TVET, shall be free and accessible to all eligible candidates.’ This provision gives legal and binding effect to Free SHS,” Asare explained.


He further remarked that the bill does not address the most pressing challenges faced by the Free SHS policy. “I think that perhaps the only reason [for the bill] is a legacy reason. It looks more like a political legacy kind of style. But in reality, if you ask me the top 10 challenges or problems that require urgent attention regarding the Free SHS policy, the law would not be among them,” he stated.

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