Free SHS implementation won’t be smooth, easy – Education Minister

The Education Minister says the implementation of the President Nana Akufo-Addo’s flagship campaign promise of free senior high school (SHS) which begins this September won’t be smooth and easy.

Mathew Opoku Prempeh also added that technical and vocational education would be given the priority it deserves at the secondary level under the Nana Akufo-Addo-led administration.

The Member of Parliament for Manhyia North said this when he addressed recipients of the 2017 Independence Day awards at the Banquet Hall of the State House in Accra.

He advised the award recipients to be consistent with the achievements in order to become role models among their fellow students.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo says government would fund the cost of public senior high schools (SHS) for all those who qualify for entry from the 2017/2018 academic year onwards.

He explained that by free SHS there will be no admission fees, no library fees, no science centre fees, no computer lab fees, no examination fees and no utility fees.

Spelling out the details of the policy “so that no one in Ghana is left in any doubts”, President Akufo-Addo added that in addition to tuition which is already free, there will be free textbooks, free boarding and free meals, and day students will get a meal at school for free.”

“Free SHS will also cover agricultural, vocational and technical institutions at the high school level.  I also want to state clearly again that we have a well-thought-out plan that involves the building of new public Senior High Schools and cluster public Senior High Schools,” he added.

Since the President’s declaration, there has been a lot of public discourse about the feasibility of the programme.

In an interview with Joy News, Senior Minister Yaw Osafo Maafo suggested government might use the Heritage fund to cater for the project that is expected to cost the nation GHC3.6 billion yearly.

Civil society organisations and political opponents slammed government for considering the use of the Heritage Fund to finance the programme.

But New Patriotic Party (NPP) MP on Parliament’s Finance Committee came out to say government has not taken any definite decision to use the Heritage Fund to finance the policy and urged all to wait for the budget.

The Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, had the final word when he said Thursday that the policy would be financed from the Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA)

Presenting the maiden Budget Statement and Economic Policy he disclosed that it would cost government GH¢400 million to implement the free SHS programme for the 2017/2018 academic year.

 

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