Professor Joseph Ghartey Ampiah, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast (UCC), said the Free Senior High School (SHS) Policy is a timely and necessary intervention to make senior high school education accessible, especially to the poor.
He said cost had been a key barrier to accessing SHS education and that the intervention would provide educational opportunity for all at least to the SHS level.
Speaking at the 80th Anniversary and Speech and Prize Giving Day of the Aggrey Memorial AME Zion SHS in Cape Coast at the weekend, he endorsed the suggestion that SHS must be made part of basic education.
The celebration, on the theme: “80 Years of Co-Education: Achievement, Challenges and the Way-forward,” brought together ministers of state, members of Parliament, old students and students among others.
The Anniversary was sponsored by the Aggrey Memorial Old Students Association (AMOSA) who painted the School and carried other renovation works in addition to the provision of a mechanised water system.
Quoting from the 2018 Education Sector Analysis Report, Prof Ghartey Ampiah said there were substantial inequity in access to SHS education, particularly among the low income class of the country.
He said for those from deprived communities with poor quintile income, only four out of 100 students who entered Kindergarten transitioned to senior high school, making the intervention more imperative.
The VC, in this regard, urged all Ghanaians to put their shoulders to the wheel and work together to help address the challenges that confront the policy to ensure sustainability.
He said gender equality was extremely important in co-educational institutions and admonished Aggrey Memorial SHS to double its efforts in the education of both boys and girls without discrimination.
He urged the old students to continue to support and make significant input to help the School achieve its vision of providing the highest quality education for its students to live productive and fulfilling lives.
Mrs Cecelia Dapaah, the Minister of Sanitation, said government was committed to pursuing the right policies to properly position the country’s education system to make it responsive to its socio-economic needs.
She said government would live up to expectation to provide the necessary infrastructure to meet the rising numbers of students.
It would also continue to consider the review of the existing curriculum and expand infrastructure in schools.
The Minister noted that with the increasing numbers of school population coupled with dwindling national resources, stakeholders like non-governmental organisations, old students associations, and faith-based organisations among others have remained reliable partners in the provision and management of schools over the years.
She, therefore, urged them not to relent in their efforts but continue to partner the Government to deliver quality education to the citizenry.
Mrs Dapaah encouraged the teachers to be innovative and explore new teaching trends to nurture the students with love and understanding and build their confidence for the future.
She advised the students to study hard to justify the huge investment made in them, be obedient to their teachers and parents as they passed through their hands to become responsible and useful citizens.
“Irrespective of the level of intelligence and success in your examination, it will be difficult to face the World ahead without discipline and respect,” she said.
Ms Kate Annan Wilberforce, the Headmistress of the School, lauded the contribution of government and the old students to the school and paid tribute to the Founding Father, A.W.E Appiah.
She said the School continued to perform excellently in the West Africa Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) but stressed that it was not without challenges.
Ms Annan Wilberforce said the limited number of teachers resident on campus due to the lack of teachers’ flats was making monitoring and mentoring of students very difficult.
She, therefore, appealed for the construction of teachers’ accommodation to facilitate effective mentoring.
Awards were given to deserving students, teachers and non-teaching staff.