The detractors and enemies of FSHS keep growing by the day, and in the process are creating an unholy alliance made up of over pampered elites, desperate politicians, and a section of the press (should I boldly say an over-rated, rented, media house?). I have reflected on the use of ‘enemies’ and I am very certain that in this race to run down the FSHS programme, enemy is a satisfactory byword for criticism.
For starters, I do not know of any government official who thinks there are no challenges with our educational system.
These challenges have been with us for as long as anybody can remember. To suddenly ascribe all problems with our educational system to FSHS raises some basic questions about sincerity, intellectual dexterity, and patriotism. Whilst acknowledging the long-standing challenges confronting our educational sector, the Nana/Bawumia government equally acknowledges the primacy of getting every child in school. When, in 2015, members of the United Nations pledged that by 2030 “all girls and boys will complete free, equitable, and quality primary and secondary education”, they were simply telling everybody else that there can be no justification for leaving any child behind. The Government is bravely pursuing what is both an equity and common sense issue, knowing full well the huge financial implications. Thank you, Nana and Bawumia!
For the NDC and their media hirelings, I will not waste time evaluating their opposition to this life-changing intervention. This group, as we all know, is not out for any good and will throw in anything to damage any policy so long as that diminishes the image of the government. They do this with a selfish expectation that it will refuel the collapsing ambition of the new “sole proprietor” of the party, which His Excellency Jerry Rawlings laboured to found. We say enough is enough from these nation wreckers.
Unfortunately, other detractors, particularly some over pampered elites and opaque think tanks, will not be evaluated generously. It is unhelpful to call a spade a big spoon. This group of over pampered elites has, over the years, benefitted from unearned privileges and yet insists on preventing the masses from getting their fair share of the national cake.
One critical and positive outcome of the FSHS programme is the gradual dismantling of what may be termed the bourgeoisification of some high-performing schools. Now a farmer’s daughter in Moagduri with aggregate 14 can be placed in Achimota SHS, and the son of the fishmonger from Nzulezu can make it to Presec, Legon. It is surprising that government communication is not trumpeting this bold attempt aimed at preventing the creation of class strata in Ghanaian society.
One cannot help but note that this strange brand of elites has an obsession with the FSHS programme.
Unfortunately, this obsession is meaningless and lacks focus, oscillating between infrastructural challenges to educational quality considerations.
Ironically they have not been able to tell us what exactly it is about quality and how FSHS has contributed negatively. Indeed they have not even produced data that shows in clear terms that quality has suffered only because we now insist that all school-going age children should be in school. For this group one is motivated to even say quality has become a junk-bin concept used by people who wants to be heard always and for no meaningful reason in particular.
Another pattern also begins to emerge. The strange elites, opaque think tanks and some half-baked experts have inundated us with fairy tales about overcrowding in schools and infrastructure deficits and lazily attribute that to FSHS.
The script is lost when people who ought to know better opt for arguments that are at best base and tacky. If anything, FSHS has exposed the Ghanaian establishment for sleeping on population data over the years. We spend several millions of dollars on various forms of censuses without using the outcomes to plan for critical investments needed to give meaning to the data we get from these exercises. And so I even ask the question: where did all those children who were never placed in Senior High Schools and Technical Schools end? To keep insisting on settling on cut-off points is just the lazy man’s tool box for addressing the need to enhance access to a burgeoning youthful population.
In effect, there is a lot of low-hanging fruit but any serious government will make the hard choices, and with some innovation ensure that all children get access. With focus and determination, I believe that there is no limit to what we can achieve as a nation.
Allowing all children to go to school is good for them, their families and society at large. Dr Adu Twum shows the way, and deserves out support. Thank you, Hon Minister.
I should end this by reminding the professional naysayers of a profound statement by Justin Sandefur. “There is plenty of evidence that even when children do not learn much at school, they still do better for having gone.”
Source: Seth Osei Darko
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