Free SHS Scares NDC

A question on the success of the full implementation of the Free Senior High School (SHS) policy posed by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for Akatsi North, Peter Nortsu-Kotoe, apparently haunted the minority NDC members in the house yesterday.

The Minister of Education, Mathew Opoku Prempeh, answering the question, said the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government had successfully implemented the policy promised Ghanaians, adding that the previous NDC government, which was rhetorical, did not commit a pesewa to its implementation.

The majority NPP taunted the minority members, as Dr Mathew Opoku Prempeh outlined and categorized all components of fees to be fully absorbed by the government.

The minister told parliament that the total fee absorbed by the current administration for each boarding student is GH¢1,007 while each day student’s fee of GH¢648 has also been completely absorbed, including one hot meal each day.

Students in public technical and vocational training institutes will get additional GH¢100 each to support their learning.

According to the minister, the fees are segmented into admission, maintenance, cumulative records, medical examination e, two sets of school uniforms, two sets of house dress, school cloth, P.E. kits, nine exercise books, four notebooks and one supplementary and three core English Literature books

The minister added that all recurrent fee items such as utilities, examination, library, practicals, sports, culture and entertainment fees, science development, SRC, house and ICT dues, building maintenance as well as teacher examination have also been totally absorbed by the government.

Dr Opoku Prempeh indicated that apart from paying subsidies for students in SHS2 and SHS3, all arrears of utility bills which were not paid by the previous NDC government over the last four years, had also been paid.

He explained that disbursement of funds to the schools would follow existing guidelines and arrangements, whereby funds are paid directly into designated bank accounts of the schools, stressing that 20% of the amount meant for the 2017/2018 academic year had been paid with the government now waiting for submission of expenditure returns and validated lists from all public schools to enable it transfer the remaining amount.

He however, admitted that there are a few challenges that the ministry was working hard to address – in the area of procuring more furniture for students.

According to the education minister, the opposition NDC must stop being pessimistic about the Free SHS policy and throw its weight behind it for its successful implementation.

He said currently, all 470,000 first-year students who gained admission into the various public schools are enjoying the policy, adding that as it (policy) gains root, the challenges would be things of the past.

“I don’t understand why my NDC friends continue to doubt the continuous implementation of the free SHS,” he wondered, stressing that in the northern parts of the country where secondary education has been free for the past 50 years, there are still problems with it; but the bottom-line is that Ghanaian students there are enjoying free SHS without any burden to parents.