Let’s talk about free SHS graduates for 2020, universities tell government

Professor George K.T. Oduro, Pro Vice Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast, has stressed the need for Government to engage more with universities on how they could absorb the expected huge numbers of free SHS graduates in 2020.

Again, he said Government must prioritise recruitment clearance for universities and ensure prompt release of budgetary allocations to the universities, for them to prepare adequately for the expected high numbers of free SHS graduates.

“I also propose for the consideration that there should be an entrance examination for all students who will be coming to the university under the free SHS policy,” he added.

Prof Oduro made these recommendations when he spoke as a panellist at a National Education Forum organized by the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) in conjunction with the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) on Thursday at Elmina.

The forum was on the theme: “Implementation of the Free Senior High School (SHS) and the Double Track Policy: Implications for Quality Tertiary Education in Ghana”.

It was aimed at creating a platform to interrogate the free SHS and the double track policy, their economic and social impact, human resource, and infrastructural challenges.

It was also to assess the role of GETfund and other state institutions in finding lasting solutions to the anticipated challenges of the policies leading to quality tertiary education in Ghana.

Prof Oduro encouraged the universities to consider organising pre-admission preparation especially for science students to build their entry capacity to meet the measure of what the universities were looking for.

On the double track system, he said, within the context of the escalated enrolment, it was the best intervention that could be used in the sense that it helped to manage the problem of accommodation and also cost effective.

“But for the introduction of the double track, Government would have spent GH¢1.3 billion managing the increase in enrolment, but because of the double track, government will spend

GH¢323 million”.

Prof Oduro also lauded the free SHS initiative as it had brought relief to parents and enhanced enrolment, but said it was not equitable enough.

“If the principle was to ensure that all monetary barriers are removed to allow everybody gain accesses to SHS, then for the sake of equity, concentrate on those who really need the help. So you can save money to equip the handicap schools,” he said.

Professor Nana Afia Opoku-Asare from the Department of Education, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), also urged the universities to tap into the resources of their professional non-teaching staff in specific areas.

She said universities must take advantage of the available technology to develop modules that would help decentralize timetables, in order to have an even distribution of lecture theatres for the growing population of students.

She said government should also provide technological support for the distance module of learning in the universities, as this could serve as an alternative for the huge number of students that would be admitted into the universities in 2020.

Professor Samuel K. Hayford, Dean, Faculty of Education, University of Education, Winneba (UEW), admonished government to heed to the suggestions from the academia and ensure that right decisions were made with regards to the implementation of the free SHS and its associated challenges.

He was also of the view that Government must develop strategies such as the expansion of infrastructure, whilst an efficient monitoring system must be put in place to allow the universities meet the needs of their students.

Source: GNA

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