The challenges associated with teaching at the senior high school level in Ghana under Free SHS
By: Rexford Dede Baah-Nyarkoh - GES
June 25, 2023

The Free Senior High School (Free SHS) education policy in Ghana was implemented by the government under President Nana Akufo-Addo in September 2017. It originated as a key campaign promise during the 2016 presidential election and has since become a fundamental component of Ghana's educational system.

However, there are several disadvantages associated with teaching under Ghana's educational system at this level that concern most teachers. Let's examine these disadvantages:

No income from Studies Fee

Teachers in senior high schools no longer receive income from studies fees paid by students because of free education. This income used to be a source of earnings for SHS teachers but has been replaced by a smaller payment called Intervention, given at the beginning of each year. Compared to the studies fees received by teachers at the basic school level, this intervention payment is significantly lower.

Additional duties such as supervising evening preps

Teachers are required to stay on campus after school hours to supervise students during prep hours or at the dining hall. This adds to their workload and reduces their personal time.

Inadequate vacation for teachers in double-track schools

Due to the introduction of the double-track system, some teachers who teach at all levels (SHS 1, 2, and 3) have limited vacation time. They are required to be in school throughout the year, with their only break occurring in December.

Obligation to be present at school even without a lesson

The Ghana Education Service (GES) expects teachers to be present at school even if they don't have a scheduled lesson. This time is supposed to be utilized for preparing lesson notes, marking exam scripts, or participating in extracurricular activities. Teachers are not given the option to stay at home during these periods.

Limited time for pursuing higher education in double-track schools

Teachers in double-track schools face challenges in furthering their education due to the lack of breaks. The only available time for pursuing higher degrees is during weekends, making it difficult to balance their academic aspirations with their teaching responsibilities.

Lack of vacation gifts

Unlike teachers at the basic school level, senior high school teachers do not receive gifts from their students during vacation. Basic school teachers often receive gifts such as soap, whereas SHS teachers do not enjoy this gesture of appreciation.

While there are several disadvantages, there are also some advantages of teaching at the SHS level in Ghana:


Teachers receive an additional amount of money called Intervention, which is automatically added to their monthly salary. This is particularly beneficial for teachers in specific positions such as form masters, house masters, senior house masters/mistresses, counsellors, and physical education teachers.

PTA motivation fees

Teachers may receive financial incentives from the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), which can serve as a source of motivation and additional income.

Long vacation (for single-track schools)

Teachers in single-track schools enjoy a lengthy vacation period, allowing them to engage in personal business or leisure activities.

Free breakfast and lunch (available in some schools)

Certain schools provide teachers with the benefit of free breakfast and lunch, reducing their expenses and ensuring they are well-nourished during the day.

Maturity of students

High school students possess a certain level of maturity, which enables teachers to focus on guiding them toward independent learning. These older students also develop stronger critical thinking skills, making discussions and debates on various topics more engaging and meaningful for both teachers and students.

By considering these advantages and disadvantages, teachers can make informed decisions about their career choices and navigate the challenges associated with teaching at the senior high school level in Ghana