The government’s free secondary education policy should have been targeted at deprived families and areas instead of the blanket coverage of all students in public schools, the Vice President of the National Graduate Teachers, Angel Carbonu, has said.
The policy, as currently being implemented, is unsustainable, Mr. Carbonu feels.
“The approach to offering help to less endowed people ought to have been taken differently from the one we are doing now,” he said on Eyewitness News.
In his view, students from most private basic schools, and most students entering certain schools deemed top class, did not need support from the government.
“I can say that when a child attends… most of the private schools we have, they don’t have any business assessing free senior high school education from the government of this country.”
“I can say, without any fear of contradiction that 80 percent of students at Wesley Girls do not need free senior high school education. I can count about 70 schools in this country that if you ask me as a technocrat, I will say, let them pay and let’s take care of the less endowed communities and in villages that really need the help.”
These concerns with the sustainability of the Free SHS policy should prompt a public debate on education financing in this country because the policy and “the situation as we find it is not sustainable,” Mr. Karbonu stated.
“When you ask me as a professional, I don’t think [Free SHS] is sustainable. We need to open a serious debate in this country on education financing and how to support our students in our schools.”
Under the free SHS policy, beneficiaries don’t have to pay admission fees, library fees, science centre fees, no computer lab fees, no examination fees and no utility fees, according to the government.
The free SHS policy also covers agricultural, vocational and technical institutions at the secondary school level, with nearly 400,000 students benefiting at the start of the programme.