Achimota Speaks: stakeholders seek new models for second-cycle institutions


After about seven years of Free Senior High School (FSHS) implementation, stakeholders argue that the time is due for the government to welcome new models that give schools some level of autonomy.

The stakeholders who turned up in their numbers at the British Council to participate in the annual Achimota Speaks open forum shared various successful global models of autonomy at the second-cycle level, such as the charter schools system in the USA, Academies in the UK, public-private partnerships (PPP) in Scandinavia, and community schools system in Asia, among others.

They raised concerns about the strain on educational standards due to the overcrowding of classrooms, stretched resources, and difficult learning environments.

Additionally, the rapid expansion of infrastructure has struggled to keep pace with demand, resulting in inadequate facilities in SHS in some cases; hence, the calls for autonomous models that would enable some of these institutions to raise developmental funds to support.

Chief Executive Officer of Margins ID Group and MOBA Ebusuapanyin elect, Moses Kwesi Baiden, in his keynote address, underscored the essential role of quality education for the future of Ghana’s youth, yet the current state of public education post-free SHS has raised concerns about the standard.

Moving forward, he stressed that it is essential to revisit past educational models that successfully integrated these elements, while still meeting international benchmarked standards, academic rigour and market relevance.

“Exploring avenues for autonomy within education systems globally could provide opportunities to reintroduce cultural components into the curriculum and elevate the overall quality of education in Ghana’s secondary schools.

“The autonomy granted to academies in the UK – our former colonial masters for instance – enables them to adopt innovative teaching methods, provide targeted support for students and collaborate with external partners to enhance educational provision,” he said.

He made these remarks, speaking on the theme ‘Exploring models of autonomy in Ghana’s secondary education’, indicating that the about 13 various global autonomous models mentioned demonstrate varying degrees of autonomy, proving that education is a shared responsibility for all.

During the panel discussion, experts highlighted the importance of collaborative structures in delivering efficient secondary education as it makes room for flexibility, control and responsibility necessary for innovation, adaption to local needs and continuous improvement in teaching quality.

Managing Director, Merson Capital Limited, and organising partner of Achimota Speaks, Yaw Benneh-Amponsah, mentioned that the old students’ associations’ coalition has put together a document that proposes well-thought-through models like the Charter Schools System, where schools are publicly funded but operate independently, allowing them greater autonomy in various aspects of operation. However, authorities in charge of education have declined to engage outright.

Former Director-General of the Ghana Education Service, Rev. Ama Afo Blay, reiterated that FSHS is a fantastic idea but the implementation has gone wrong, leading to all the problems encountered; hence, the need to review the models.

She indicated that the country used to boast a culturally rich second-cycle education system that gave students a full-bodied experience and balanced career lines or lifestyles. The time for review, she added, is now and the discussions must be louder.

Executive Director – Africa Education Watch, Kofi Asare, taking his turn, lamented the lack of political will to effect any meaningful change to the current state of FSHS due to the politicisation of issues and the lower-class masses’ taste for free things irrespective of quality and aftermath effects.

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