Impact of Free SHS Policy on the Girl Child Education
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS AND ACRONYMS
CAMFED – Campaign for Female Education
COBET – Completely Basic Education Training
GSES – Girls Secondary School Support
MoEVT – Ministry of Education and Vocational Training
PEDP – Primary Education Development Plan
SAP – Structural Adjustment Programs
SEDP – Secondary Education Development Plan
SPSS – Statistical Package for Social Sciences
UNICEF – United Nations Children’s Fund
USAID – United States Agency for International Development
USE – Universal Secondary Education
Background to the Study
Free SHS in Ghana was introduced in 2002 in primary schools whereby all the students at the age of going to school get opportunity of acquiring primary education. In 2016 free SHS was introduced in secondary schools with the aim of strengthening education in public schools. The idea been to ensure all of students who complete their primary education will have access to get secondary education with less cost because some had been covered by the government. Though it is termed as free SHS but in actual sense there are different costs involved when acquiring education.
Previous some of the parents fail to take their children to secondary school even to public secondary schools which were mostly cheap, but now situation is little bit resolved particularly to girls after the new education policy of free SHS. Girls’ education had been denied for long time due to different reasons such as cultural beliefs, religious beliefs and priorities within families.
The Ghana government continued to fulfill its obligation to give free SHS to its citizens, through provision of capitation grants to cover school fees and running costs each month to support the policy of Free SHS. In the year 2017, apart from individual challenges there are some of the challenges related to school itself like location of the school, shortage of science teachers, text books as per students’ ratio and overcrowded classrooms. As a result, it raised the question on whether free SHS will strengthens girls’ education in Ghana (Abagi, 2015).
In realization of the importance of basic education there has been agitation for more functional and qualitative education all over the world, through different initiatives such as Education for All (EFA) to ensure actual implementation of the agreed policy. The initiatives include ensuring all children particularly girls from disadvantaged backgrounds; have access to a complete free compulsory and good quality primary and secondary education (Mutisy, 2016). In supporting this since independence the government of Ghana had vision of ensuring access to education for every child. The implementation was through the introduction of Education Policy of 1995 which insisted on more opportunities of education for all children, particularly girls who had been left behind (URT, 2015).
Thereafter the government also introduced Primary Education Development Program (PEDP) and Secondary Education Development Program (SEDP) to increase enrollment rate of children particularly girls and reduce their drop rate. The government of Ghana also launched the new Education and Training Policy in 2014, which insisting on provision of free basic education. In this regard, the policy aimed at increasing enrollment rate of children mostly girls and children from disadvantaged backgrounds who do not have access to education (MoEVT, 2015).
Two years after the launching new policy the government abolished all fees for lower secondary education and allocates funds to support the policy. Furthermore, all primary and secondary schools have been receiving monthly capitation grants in a ‘timely manner’ since December 2015, under the government’s Free SHS Policy. The amount of the grant for each school is linked to their enrolment rates in that particular school at that particular year. In 2017 there were 11,000,000 students, who were beneficiaries of free SHS of which 50 % were girls (Human Rights Watch, 2018). Thus it is from this background this study examined on how Fee Free Secondary Education Strengthens Girls’ Education in Public Secondary Schools in Kumasi District.
2. Statement of the Problem
Girls’ education goes beyond getting girls into school or any other formal learning processes, rather it is also about ensuring that girls learn and feel safe while in school. It is all about completion of education with skills that will help them to effectively compete in the labor market. Even though their enrolment rate increases much every now and then, but there are no strategies to retain them in schools so as they finish their studies. In the process of acquiring education, they will be able to learn the socio-emotional and life skills necessary to navigate and adapt to a changing world. Education received will enable girls on ability to make decisions about their own lives and others but also contribute to their communities and the world at large (Aina, 2013).
In relation to the idea of making girls getting access to education, the Ghanaian government under Ministry of Education and Vocational Training introduce new Education Policy in 2014 that expresses the idea of free basic education to public primary through secondary schools. The policy had different circulars that explain how Free SHS will go about pertaining students learning from standard one to form four. In this case all the children of the age of primary school and those who particularly complete primary education and selected to join secondary education will attain that without any direct costs (URT, 2015).
After the circular released in the year 2016 there are more opportunity for students to join secondary education, especially girls whom were left behind after completion of primary education. There are still few indirect costs of education involved but the biggest costs were removed to reduce parents’ burdens on their children education. The circular insists much on direct cost of education which seems to be huge burden to the poorest households; as a result girls were discriminated when it came to the issue of acquiring their basic education. It had been assumed that the free SHS policy will resolve the problem of enrolment rate of students into different levels of education after the new education policy.
Majority of school girls especially in rural areas are still walking long distance before they get to school, because even those public community schools which had been enrolled do not have hostels for students. Along the way to school girls encounters several challenges, thus lead to high rate of truancy or sometimes drop out. In most cases their participation in learning has been very poor because they arrived in school already tired due to long walking distance or house chores and even their performances become low, this have been observed in most of the public schools (Mbuta, 2017).
However, the relationship between Fee Free Secondary Education and Girls attainment of Free SHS is not well clarified in the reviewed studies. Also, girls’ enrolment rate to secondary low due to the fact that it involves different cost to attain it. Therefore, this study intended to examine how Free SHS Policy strengthening Girls’ Education in Public Secondary Schools in Ghana, using Kumasi District as a case study.
3. Research Objectives
The main objective of the study was to examine the extent to which Fee Free Secondary Education Strengthens Girls’ Education in Public Secondary Schools in Kumasi District
4. Specific Objectives
- To assess enrollment rate of girls in public secondary schools after introduction of free SHS.
- To assess girls’ retention rate in public secondary schools after the introduction of free SHS.
- To analyze girls’ academic performance in public secondary schools after the introduction of free SHS.
5. Research Questions
- What was the enrollment rate of girls into public secondary schools after introduction of free SHS?
- What was girls’ retention rate in public secondary schools after the introduction of free SHS?
- What was girls’ academic performance in public secondary schools after the introduction of free SHS?
6. Significance of the Study
The findings of this study might be important in the following ways. First, they will create awareness of enrollment and retention rate of girls in public secondary schools and academic performance of girls in public secondary schools. Second, it might bring awareness on girls’ enrolment rate, retention rate and academic performance in public secondary schools, which will help the government and education stakeholders so as to take appropriate measure on strengthening girls’ education in Ghana at large.
7. Scope of the study
The study will examine the role of Fee-Free SHS in Strengthening Girls’ Education. The study will be carried out only in Kumasi District covering the selected public secondary schools. It will employ girls who were students, DSEO’s, academic teachers and school heads as respondents for the study.
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