As stated in Article 25 1b of the 1992 Constitution, “Secondary education in its different forms including technical and vocational education, shall be made generally available and accessible to all by every appropriate means, and in particular, by the progressive introduction of free education.”
It has also been stated in Target 1 of the United Nations Development Goal (SDGs) Goal 4 that “by 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes.” It has therefore been a priority of the government and for that matter, the Ministry of Education to ensure that education be made free from basic to secondary to afford more children in Ghana the opportunity to access quality education. In September 2017, the Ministry achieved a major milestone when the Free Senior High School program took off, with a record enrolment that year of over 11% increase from previous years. In 2017/18 academic year, another record was set with the highest enrolment ever in the country, with over 470,000 students enrolled in senior high school.
Every Ghanaian child who is placed into a public Second Cycle Institution by the Computerised School Selection and Placement System (CSSPS) during the school placement process is eligible to enjoy the Free SHS.
The Free SHS program therefore provides core textbooks, supplementary readers’ notebooks and exercise books to students at no cost to them, together with free drawing instruments in the case of the technical institutions.
In the 2016/17 academic year, the number of children who qualified and had been placed in senior high school but could not enrol stood at 11,336 out of a total of 420,135 who were placed. However, in the 2017/18 academic year, following the introduction of the Free Senior High School program, this dropped to 62,453 out of 424,224 who were placed in senior high schools. Clearly therefore, more children were accessing senior high school.
With government’s determination that no child should be left behind, the Double Track (DT) system was introduced after consultation with stakeholders. The DT was to tackle the issue of increased against limited infrastructure in many preferred Senior High Schools across the nation. It sought to achieve 4 major aims with existing infrastructure:
- Create room to accommodate the increase in enrolment
- Reduce Class sizes
- Increase contact hours with teachers
- Increase the number of holidays (especially for teachers)