Deputy Ranking Member of the Education Committee of Parliament and MP for Builsa South, Dr. Clement Apaak, has said most students in tertiary institutions who benefited from the Free SHS program are struggling with their studies.

He said although most of the students passed the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) with good grades but are unable to make progress in their tertiary education.

The Deputy Ranking member stated the quality of education in the SHS level has dwindled such that, some of the lecturers are proposing an entrance exam module for students enrolling under the Free Senior High School policy.

“You can call a few of my colleagues who are still at the universities, lecturers, and ask them about the quality of students who are coming through these days. They will tell you that the quality is unsatisfactory.

“There are agitations from colleagues who’re still in academia proposing the need to institute an entrance examination because we have students who write WASSCE and get very good grades but when they get to the universities and other tertiary institutions, they are struggling to cope with tertiary level educational activity,” he said on Joy FM’s Newsfile on Saturday.

The lawmaker further noted that the recent assessment by the IMF has declared that although the policy increased enrolment, the quality was poor and the policy poorly targeted.

For him, this proves that the country is not getting value for money as far as the pro-poor policy is concerned.

“The Free Senior High School has led to an increase in enrollment but with poor learning outcomes, I think that is very significant, it is largely because of that component of poor learning outcomes that justifies the call by John Mahama, the likes of Prof Ayettey, Prof Addae-Mensah, Kofi Asare of Education Watch and Dr Partey of Institute of Educational studies. Are we getting value for money and the answer is no,” he added.



Recently, former President John Mahama lamented that the Free Senior High School programme in its current form is expensive than when parents used to pay fees for their children in second cycle institutions.

The 2020 presidential candidate for the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) said when voted to power, his government will fix the challenges bedevilling the policy which is now costing parents more.

“Free SHS is not working properly, the benefit it is supposed to give the parents, they are not getting. I can tell you today that the money we are spending on our children to go to school is far more than when we used to pay school fees,” he said while addressing NDC delegates at Garu in the Upper East Region.

Assuring Ghanaians about tackling the challenges such as accommodation and food shortages, Mr Mahama said, “We are going to repair the free SHS and make it better and create the situation when where school reopens, all the children will go together and when they vacate they all come home together.”


Mr Mahama in the past few years has been consistent with his criticism of the Free SHS policy. He has always hinged his concerns on the Akufo-Addo government’s inability to complete some community day schools (E-Blocks) the erstwhile National Democratic Congress (NDC) government initiated to help absorb more students into senior high schools (SHSs).

The school blocks were built across the country to cater for the infrastructural deficits in the country’s SHSs while the government rolled out the ‘progressively free senior high school policy’.

However, the Mahama-led government lost the 2016 elections, stalling most of the projects.

The Ministry for Education under the leadership of Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh announced that the Akufo-Addo government had completed some of the school projects bequeathed to them in 2017.

But Mahama believes the government has not done enough to finish the projects and get students in SHS to study comfortably.

Speaking in an interview on Bogoso-based Trinity FM in 2021,  Mr Mahama indicated that the completion of the E-Blocks would have saved the government from running the double-track system.

“Everything you’ll do, you have to apply wisdom. To start the free SHS, you have to know that when you open the gates like that, the children will be many and that means you have to make provisions for the students before opening the gates,” the 2020 NDC Presidential candidate said in Akan.

He also said the failure to complete the E-Blocks has become  “a waste of taxpayers’ money”, adding that the government has left the projects unattended to and is embarking on different projects.

“Today some of the schools have been left unattended to. If they were operational, there wouldn’t be this double track,” Mahama added. “Because of this, the quality of education is declining and that is why the children want to rely on ‘apor’ (exam leakages) before going to the examination centre.”

He continued, “We have heard how students got angry after their final exams and went on rampage, attacking teachers because they did not allow them to engage in examination malpractices.”

To him, “if the quality of education in the second-cycle institutions is good and you train the children well, we won’t be seeing all these.”

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