General News of Tue, 12 Sep 201717
Free SHS: GES summons school heads for allegedly charging fees
The Education Ministry has summoned some heads of senior high school over claims they are charging fees exempted under the free SHS policy.
Former Director of Education at the Ghana Education Service (GES) and an advocate of government’s flagship education policy revealed this on Monday on current affairs programme, PM Express on the Joy News channel (Multi TV).
Mr Nsowah did not mention the names of the heads or the number of heads summoned to the Education Ministry, however, he said the summons is a response to numerous reports the unnamed schools have been charging unapproved fees.
“We are hearing some of these in the news and so on. But immediately...the Ministry is following up on that. Some heads have been summoned to report to the Ministry tomorrow [Tuesday] morning and if it is true that they are collecting fees, certainly, the ministry will deal with them” he said.
President Nana Akufo-Addo’s 2008 and 2016 electioneering campaign promise to roll out a comprehensive free education programme started Monday with high schools reopening across the country.
In addition to tuition which is already free, fees for boarding, admission, library, examination, computer lab, science centre, feeding, utilities, text books and meals for day students have been taken up by the government.
Apart from delays in the release of funds to schools, some school heads have cited non-availability of a document that details rules on the implementation of the programme as challenges in the implementation process.
Also, there are unconfirmed reports that some schools want parents to support infrastructural projects, and failure to do so may cause their wards to be prevented from attending class.
Responding to the report on PM Express, Mr Nsowah said although the free SHS policy is not against infrastructural projects funded by parents, it must not be to the detriment of students’ access to learning.
"Infrastructural projects can go ahead but you [heads of schools] cannot charge it on students. Parents are adults, and they should find ways of addressing their challenges that they have agreed upon without stopping any child from going to classes,” he told show host, Nana Ansah Kwao II.
An education consultant on the show, Dr Prince Armah, noted that despite the government's demonstrated commitment to ensuring sustainability of the policy, a fundamental support structure for the secondary school system over the years has been the contribution of parents and especially old students.
He, therefore, urged the free SHS policy champions to begin creating discussions on how to get stakeholder support for schools in order to address infrastructural and quality education challenges, for instance.
"If you are looking at the financial streams, some schools are well endowed not because they’ve got the facilities. They are well endowed because they’ve got people from relatively affluent backgrounds who are old students and they make significant contributions to the secondary schools," he argues.