Distribution mechanisms of Ghana’s free senior high school policy : the equity dimensions and ameliorating measures

Timothy CHANIMBE*, Paa Kwesi Wolseley PRAH

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Secondary schools in Ghana are mainly classified as day or day/boarding, single sex or mixed, stratified into resourced (elite) or less resourced whilst academic delivery is via academic or technical-vocational programmes. This categorization has also bred performing and underperforming inequities suggesting the absence of equal access to quality and learning conditions across all the schools. With equity among the aims of the free senior high school policy, we investigate how the distribution of policy resources in six diverse schools creates or bridges inequities across schools and solicit ways of improving implementation challenges of the policy. Meanwhile, existing research examined the enrollment rates and impacts of this policy whilst previous literature on equity was derived from other jurisdictions which set the benchmarks for examination in this study. Underpinned by the theory of equal educational opportunity, we unmasked that although the free senior high school policy has granted free access to public senior high schools, the policy ensures freer education to boarding students than day students. The thrust is, the policy’s coverage of schools’ recurrent expenditure calculated per school population seems equitable. However, inequity stems from schools’ different capital requirements due to the resource disparities among schools. The policy’s response to these inequities is by reserving 30% slots in 82 elite schools for students from public basic schools. We argue that this direction defeats meritocracy and thus, underperforming senior high schools must be improved so that there can be equal access to quality and learning conditions across all schools. Although all the schools received similar benefits apart from the residential and feeding differences, technical schools received additional materials purported to enhance their specialty. Participants appealed for the provision of textbooks for elective subjects whilst others maintained that buying of books should be handed over to parents. Due to the resource disparities, deprived schools simultaneously appealed for increased capital expenditure to meet their capital requirements in addition to the request from all the schools for funds and goods to be released on time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)441-467
Number of pages27
Issue number4
Early online date29 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Educational equity
  • Free SHS policy
  • Ghana
  • Secondary schools


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