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Akufo-Addo is offering parents a deal that seems difficult to refuse: abolishing fees at senior high schools which can amount to several hundred dollars per term and keep education out of reach for many families/FILE

Africa

Free school or better school? Election promise divides Ghana

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At Labone Senior High School, a breezy, walled campus of classrooms and dormitories in a middle-class Accra neighborhood, students and teachers were divided.

Some pointed to classroom blocks built by the NDC government as evidence that a slow-and-steady approach would pay off.

“In my opinion, I don’t think it’s a better way,” said Solomon Moah, a first-year student. “All the time we put in the effort because our parents are paying. Most children don’t want your parents to pay (wastefully).”

But many students acknowledge their families struggle with the school’s fees, which amount to about $286 per term for boarding students.

Reginald Otoo, a math teacher at Labone, thinks it’s too soon for free high school.

He says teachers are overworked and, in parts of the country where there aren’t enough schools, still giving lessons under trees.

Otoo teaches up to 50 students at a time in a drab classroom with a dirty chalkboard and haphazard rows of chipped and graffiti-covered desks.

Asked where he would send his four children for high school, Otoo said he didn’t trust the quality of education at public schools like Labone. Better to send his children to private school, he said.

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“They pay more attention to quality,” Otoo said. “You pay more for quality.”

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