The 'New' Free Senior High School Policy in Ghana: Emergent Issues and Challenges of Implementation in Schools

Timothy CHANIMBE, Kwaku Opoku DANKWAH

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

10 Citations (Scopus)


Free secondary education remains limited in the developing world, where some 80% of 264 million children currently unable to access secondary education across 65 countries associated with the Global Partnership for Education are based. Despite a 2015 commitment by UN member countries to provide free secondary education by 2030, most countries with prior cost-sharing approaches are yet to achieve this goal. Ghana remains one of the few countries with a prior cost-sharing model to have rolled out ‘fully’ free secondary education. We broach Ghana’s implementation of the policy and seek to explore the critically emergent issues and challenges facing public senior high schools. The generalities of our empirical evidence unveil that high enrolment rates culminated in teacher shortages, increased workload for existing teachers, classroom deficits, overcrowding in class, high rate of indiscipline and inadequate teaching/learning materials. Delay in the supply of funds also exacerbated schools' predicaments, shredding the efficacy of the policy in schools. Unbeknownst to existing studies, free feeding and lodging plagued schools with dissimilar glitches over dining and accommodation facilities. Thus, the explicated intricacies and deep-seated nuances in these results substantiate arguments that the diverse and categorization of schools determined the distinctiveness and uneven magnitude of schools' challenges in implementing the policy. From the mundane to the sublime, the free financing model worsens existing challenges and erupts new kinds marked by diverse variables along day/boarding, rural/urban, resourced/less resourced and north/south lines. Using the systems theory, we combined interviews, observation and documentary analysis from six distinct schools to evaluate challenges in the policy’s implementation in schools.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)599-630
Number of pages32
Issue number4
Early online date12 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V.


  • Secondary education
  • Free SHS policy
  • Education policy
  • Ghana
  • Africa


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