Drama Over Anti-Free SHS Confab

AN EMBARRASSING drama unfolded at a news conference organized by pro-National Democratic Congress (NDC) group, ‘Ghana First,’ when figures it put out to discredit the free Senior High School (SHS) promised by the New patriotic Party (NPP) candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo turned out to be fictional. At the press conference in Accra, the NDC group led by Dr. Ebenezer Hayford, a defeated NDC parliamentary aspirant for Ayawaso West Wuogon and convener of the group, said data from the Ghana Education Service (GES) showed the per-head cost of educating each senior high school student per term was GH¢605.01. He said multiplying the per-head cost of each student by the total SHS student population of 728,076 in the 511 senior high schools in Ghana would amount to GH¢440,493,260.76. He then concluded that the actual amount needed for any free SHS education policy annually was GH¢1.32 billion which would be difficult for Nana Addo to get. However journalists at the press conference disputed the purported GES figure of GH¢605.01 as the cost of educating each student put out by the think-tank, saying it was wrong. The Minister of Education, Lee Ocran said recently government had approved GH¢388.84 as boarding fees for the first term for first year students in public second cycle schools for the 2012-2013 academic year. He said day students for the first year, first term will also pay GH¢152.50, while foreign students were required to pay a tuition fee of GH¢468.00 per term. The journalists therefore questioned the think-tank over whether indeed they got the figures from the GES as they were purporting. The group feeling uncomfortable with the pressure coming from the journalists pleaded that they would cross-check the information again with the GES to ascertain the real amount needed to be paid by students. Dr Hayford however said the fees varied because some students were paying more than the required amount stated by the GES, adding that the GH¢605.01 per term was the minimum amount needed per their survey.