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Free SHS bill: Senior High School education to be extended from 3 to 6 years

The Education Ministry will soon seek approval from Parliament to expand Senior High Schools (SHS) from three to six years.

Minister of Education Dr. Yaw Adutwum

This initiative follows the presentation of the Free Senior High School (SHS) bill to Parliament, aiming to provide legal backing for free and compulsory SHS education.

The bill represents a significant step toward formalising and sustaining the Free SHS policy, a major initiative of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo's administration since 2017.

This policy has substantially increased enrollment and educational opportunities for Ghanaian children by offering free education at the senior high school level.

Education Minister Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum stated that the bill would also propose separating Junior High School (JHS) from basic education, incorporating it into secondary education to create a six-year secondary school system.

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Additionally, the bill suggests cancelling the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) as a precondition for secondary admission.

Instead, the BECE would be used for school selection purposes.

Dr. Adutwum indicated that upon the bill's passage, the certification for completing SHS would become the first formal certificate any student could obtain in Ghana, replacing the BECE certification.

Addressing the press, Dr Adutwum emphasised that legislating Free SHS is crucial because the policy is currently not mandatory, allowing future governments to potentially discontinue it.

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He added: "What we need is a law that mandates free, compulsory universal secondary education. This means the minimum education for Ghanaians should be senior high school, not junior high school. It is our responsibility to provide the support for them."

He further elaborated on the proposal to integrate JHS into secondary education, stating that this change would establish a six-year secondary education system.

Currently, Ghana operates a 3-year junior high and a 3-year senior high school system following six years of primary education.

This system replaced the previous 5-year GCE Ordinary Level plus 2-year GCE Advanced Level secondary education system.

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