Some developing countries especially in the African continent have been major advocates for free education mostly in public schools.
When education is free, there will be no need for tuition funding because the government or some charitable organisations will bear the cost and this is the reason most people are in support of it.
Recently Ghana initiated free education for its public senior high schools.
Due to the huge numbers, the students were made to attend school in batches. Now the government, under President Nana Akufo-Addo’s tenure, is suggesting that it would be introducing free education in public tertiary institutions.
Do you think free tertiary education is possible and what will be the effect of it?
Some students, including students of the University of Ghana, shared their opinions with us. (These students chose anonymity hence their responses have been published under different names).
Lawrence: Most students in the university or other tertiary institutions believe that the implementation of free tertiary is a bad idea. It is going to have a negative toll on our education system in the sense that the teaching and learning process will no longer be as effective as before. Since everyone values what they work hard for, it is believed that free tertiary will only introduce a lackadaisical attitude on the part of both lecturers and students.
Kofi: There is a high probability of lecturers and other working staff going on strike. This is because a fraction of the school fees are used to pay the non-teaching staff and to also cater for the maintenance of these institutions whilst the government pays the lecturers. The introduction of free tertiary indirectly insinuates that the government is going to cater for the salaries of both the teaching and non-teaching staff in these institutions. Now if their salaries should delay because there are not enough funds to pay and to also cater for the huge student populace, they might go on strike for a longer period and this might delay the learning process.
Zoey: It is true that some believe that the introduction of free tertiary may result in the permanent acceptance of the modular system as the standard of learning in tertiary institutions. However, since senior high schools are already beneficiaries of free education, there is a high probability that tertiary institutions might adapt when it comes to it.
Akorfa: I believe that it is a good idea. I am glad that though the government is fully aware of these difficult moments, it has decided to be thoughtful and empathetic by providing free access to tertiary education. This is going to give many SHS graduates the opportunity to further their studies and in the long run, help curb poverty in Ghana.
Jaz: I think free tertiary education will eventually result in a high rate of graduate unemployment. Now let imagine everyone is able to graduate successfully, will the government be able to provide employment for the great masses? Definitely no, so most graduates will be forced to move on with their life without being employed. Free tertiary is good, however, it is definitely the right initiative at the wrong time. Instead, the government can invest the money for free tertiary education into creating more job opportunities for unemployed graduates so the level of unemployment may reduce in Ghana.
Since the President mentioned that he is planning on introducing free tertiary education in London last week, not much has been said about it since then.
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