SHS simply stands for Senior High School. This is a common term used in many countries across the world to refer to secondary education institutions after junior high or preparatory education. In Ghana, and across many, if not all Africa countries, SHS is used.
To progress in formal education, one is expected to follow the structures and standards which are setup mostly by law and based on international best practices.
In Ghana, attending a senior high school is very relevant such that, without completing SHS and successfully writing and passing your WASSCE, it could be difficult to have a smooth path towards higher learning such as going to university, teacher training college, polytechnic, etc.
Completing SHS with a WASSCE certificate is also a minimum relevant requirement for one to get enlistment into the security services such as the Military, Police, Fire Service, Prisons and Customs services.
As of 2021, Ghana has a record high of 1,182 GES recognized senior high schools. This number comprises government-owned senior high schools, government technical and vocational second cycle schools, private senior high schools, and private technical & vocational schools.
Out of this number 722 are public or government schools where much of the competition for selection and attendance takes place. Historically Ghanaian children and their parents prefer public SHS to private SHS for several reasons. However, this is contrary to junior or middle schooling, where parents tend to prefer private junior high schools to public ones.
Out of this number of 1,182 there also currently 47 public technical and vocational second cycle schools and the remaining numbers are private SHS and technical & vocational SHS.
The popularity of senior high schools is a big deal in Ghana partly because many young people prefer to attend popular schools as it is believed such schools have better teaching and learning environments, which can influence positively one's academic abilities and associations.
Though a good and enhanced teaching and learning SHS is important, an individual’s attitude towards academic activities also contributes to better performance.
Ghanaians also love academic rivalry and many students from many schools hold in high esteem their senior high schools especially when it comes to bragging rights.
It is also interesting to note that, even some of the so-called popular schools, really draw their popularity from past glories in academic achievements. Today there are many more schools that are doing extremely well leveling the bragging field.
Below, we provide a list of 11 popular senior high schools based on the number of times such schools have won the National Science & Maths (NSMQ) quiz since its inception over 20 years ago.
There are some girls’ senior high schools that are very popular, but mysteriously, none have been able to win the NSMQ so far, though they participate very well. Below are some popular girls' SHS in Ghana based on WASSCE 2019 performance. This data is the most publicly available on WASSCE performance.