Most Reverend Matthew Kwasi Gyamfi, the Catholic Bishop of Sunyani, has lauded the free SHS policy and cautioned that the nation must guide against sacrificing quality for quantity.

He said like the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) which is benefiting all registered Ghanaians, the free SHS policy would make more people benefit from SHS education.

But like the NHIS, the Government must not forget that “free SHS is going to be challenging, knowing well the strength of our fragile economy and its associated weaknesses”, Most Reverend Gyamfi said.

He was speaking on the theme: “Providing Equitable and Inclusive Education for the Youth: The Gateway to Life-Long Opportunities”, at the opening of the 24th annual national Conference of Directors of Education (CODE) held on Tuesday in Sunyani.

The one-week event, being attended by about 200 Directors from the various Ghana Education Service (GES) Directorates, aimed among others at sharing ideas and knowledge for best practices and also identifying solutions to the myriad of challenges that confront them in the execution of their duties.

He said education delivery for the Ghanaian youth could and should never be on the principle of “this is the best we are capable of giving you, take it or leave it. Rather, the principle should be providing the best education there can be”.

Most Reverend Gyamfi said this was particularly important since the quality of education for the youth should be comparable to the quality of education of the nation’s global competitors.

The State must, therefore, besides the fees absorbing might seriously consider granting the freedom to and encouraging Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs), Old Students Association and philanthropists to contribute generously to schools to augment the state’s efforts to implement the Policy.

Most Reverend Gyamfi said the State could accept and strengthen the partnership with the Church in education delivery saying such a partnership would, as it did in the past, contribute significantly to providing equitable and inclusive education for the youth.

This, he said, was because “the Free SHS is not free since it is financed by the tax monies of the parents and guardians which the state only dispenses on behalf of the people”.

Most Reverend Gyamfi said “if what we contribute is not enough, the State cannot offer the free SHS” citing that “the State has not paid utility bills and allowances due some basic schools for a while and we should be realistic about what the State can provide from our common purse and allow the individuals and others to help in their own way”.

Mrs Margaret Frempong-Kore, the National President of CODE, said the Conference was ever ready to create that enabling environment that would trigger new knowledge and motivate teachers to depart from old ways of doing things when the needed inputs and resources were made available.

She commended government for the new strategic policy directives to enhance access and quality of education through the Free SHS Policy, the 100 per cent increase in capitation grant for basic schools, all beginning in September, 2017 and the intended expansion of the Ghana School Feeding Programme.

Mrs Frempong-Kore expressed worry that the absence of District Directors of Education to fill in vacant positions in some Directorates of Education “in a timely-fashion points to a gap in the succession planning system of GES”.

She said CODE would greatly appreciate “such a system being put in place to ensure that districts enjoy their quota of Directors”.

Source: GNA/