General News of Mon, 4 Sep 201712

Free SHS: 'Don't pay any fees' – MoE to parents

Parents must not pay any fees demanded by heads of senior high schools since the government is taking care of all such expenses beginning this September as part of the Free SHS policy, Deputy Minister of Education Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum has said.

“Students are not supposed to pay any fees”, he told journalists at a press conference on Monday, 4 August. “As a matter of fact, PTA-levied fees like utilities, development levy, and even teacher motivation is going to be paid by the government, as a result, we’ve made it abundantly clear to headmasters that money should not be the reason why a student should not go to school, therefore no parent should receive a bill.”

Dr. Adutwum said even “if PTA meets and decides in consultation with GES that there is something they want to do and they want parents to contribute, it will not be mandatory. If Mr. Kojo Mensah doesn’t have money to make that contribution for his ward, the student will not be prevented from going to school.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Adutwum has asked parents and prospective SHS students not to panic because all Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) candidates who qualified for SHS will be duly given placements.

He has given the assurance that no student who has qualified for placement would be left behind.

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Already, Education Minister, Dr. Mathew Opoku Prempeh, has assured parents and all qualified candidates that all the over 150,000 out of a total of 460,941 qualified BECE candidates who did not get placement in SHS, will definitely get placements in schools where vacancies exist.

Already the Ghana Education Service (GES) has extended the window of placement by another 48 hours after it discovered that over 150,000 qualified candidates had still not been placed, 24 hours after the initial deadline expired.

An initial 48-hour window given by the GES fell on a holiday and also on the weekend, thus necessitating another 48-hour extension. The affected students now have up to Tuesday, September 5 to complete the placement processes.

“…For those who have not been placed in any of their for options, we are asking them to continue to select schools on Monday [September 4] and Tuesday [September 5]. By next week Tuesday, we will do our review to assess the situation and take the next decision,” the acting Director-General of the GES, Professor Kwesi Opoku-Amankwa said in an interview.

“By Monday and Tuesday, we are expecting that they will be able to purchase the card and then go online to either print their admission forms or select a school,” he told Accra-based Citi FM, explaining that the GES could have done the placement by itself, “but this time around, we are giving them the option to do what we call self-placement.”

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Speaking to Moro Awudu on Class91.3FM’s Executive Breakfast Show on Monday, 4 August, Dr. Opoku Prempeh said the situation whereby some candidates do not get placement is not unusual.

“There is nothing wrong with that. For years, it happens that some don’t get the schools they choose. It’s not the first time it is happening.

In fact, since time immemorial, even going to the university, some students don’t get the courses they choose and they have to choose a different course so that is a normal thing. What we used to hear every year was that those who didn’t get their choices were placed by the CSSPS in certain schools and there was uproar around the country from students who claim they didn’t choose those schools and they were being put there, from parents who were not in favour of the schools their wards have been placed, and also frankly some people live in another part of the country and they were being put in day schools in another part of the country.

So what we’ve done this year after placing all those who got a choice of their own is that those who didn’t get any of these schools that they wanted to go to are being given a second chance to go and visit the website and choose from a school that the vacancy exists.

“The second batch that is left, obviously most of our big schools are full now but there are three options with the Ghana Education Service category and there are still existing vacancies in many schools so you pick and choose a school that there is a vacancy and we’ll place you there.

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Asked if “certainly there is a vacancy to accommodate everybody who is qualified to go to senior high school”, Dr. Opoku Prempeh said: “Yes”.

Buttressing his boss’ position, Dr. Adutwum told journalists that: “We understand that there was a communiqué from us about making sure that within 48hours, parents are able to go and check and enroll their students and sign up and print their admission letters.

This was in no way to rush them, it was an opportunity for us to make sure that this year, for the first time in many years, our schools will open early enough so that we are able to really get students to use the three years as [best] as possible in their studies.

“What has been happening in this country is that we’ve never been able to reopen schools early, and as a result some schools reopen in November, some students will go to school in January, so one term is gone and then at the end of the three years, WAEC also do their exams beginning February, so, in essence, what was meant to be three years becomes two years.

This is what we are trying to avoid. So, parents do not panic. What we are saying is that: we would give you the opportunity, at the end of the two days, if your child is not enrolled, we are not going to cut him or her off, we will work with you, we are monitoring the situation.

This is Nana Addo Dankwa’s vision of making sure that no child is left behind and we at the Ministry of Education will do everything possible to ensure that no student who has been placed or has been given the opportunity to select a school will be left behind.”

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