Kwasi Kwarteng (PRO, Ministry of Education)_6

The Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Education Ministry, Kwasi Kwarteng, has urged Ghanaians to consider the Free Senior High School (SHS) policy as an investment policy.

According to him, with every investment, many resources have to be pumped into sustaining it and transforming it into the desired quality.

He argued that most Ghanaians view the policy as an expensive venture that has cost the state so much resources, thereby affecting other sectors. This perspective, he said, has robbed many of seeing the benefits of the policy.

He contributed to JoyNews’ National Dialogue on the Free SHS Promise on Thursday, March 21.

“I have always insisted that it all boils down to how you see the policy, whether you see it as an investment policy or a policy of expenditure. If you see it as an investment, your narrative, your thinking, and your embracing of the policy will be different from how you see it when you consider it as an expenditure.

“I have heard sections of Ghanaians saying that other sectors of the economy probably are not doing well because they believe that a lot of money is being channeled into the Free SHS policy,” he said.

He argued that in the Education Ministry, education is largely anchored on three key pillars: Access, quality, and relevance. In all these, the ministry ensures that these factors are assessed for their impacts, and the ministry is focused on impacting the socioeconomic transformation of the lives of Ghanaians.

Mr Kwartey stressed that the motive for the government investing in the Free SHS policy is to invest in access. He argued that since the introduction of the flagship programme, more people have had access to secondary education, thereby positively impacting general development.

“The SHS policy is an investment policy. Investment in the areas of assets. If you look at the enrollment data for instance in 2014, in terms of the number of students that were placed, that is 386,412. Out of this number, only 273,152. This is about 17.69% actually, went to school.

“Now compare these same figures to 2023. In 2023, 554,034 SHS students were placed and out of these numbers you have 504,580 apparently taking up the admission and getting enrolled. That’s about 91.7%.

“Beyond that, beyond even the percentage statistics, let me make it simple terms for you. Before the free SHS policy, every year when students graduate from BECE and they have to go to the senior high schools, at least you have a minimum of 100,000 students that were denied access to higher education.

“Of course, largely because of these cost barriers that we’ve already highlighted. And even the number of students that also proceed to the senior high schools, by the time they get to second year you have about 20% of them dropping,” he said.

Nevertheless, with the introduction of the policy, many people have had access, which he argued is the basis of free SHS.