General News of Mon, 13 Feb 201723

Free SHS Policy: I doubt sustainability, just window dressing - Anarfi- Mensah

The Former Ashanti Regional Minister Peter Anarfi -Mensah has expressed pessimism about the sustainability of the free Senior High School (SHS) policy in public schools to be implemented by the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) government describing it as a ‘window dressing’.

Mr Anarfi-Mensah further described the policy as a ‘superficial’ policy designed by the government to score cheap political points.

He doubted if the policy can go beyond two terms, explaining that the backlog of feeding fees arrears and government subventions are things government cannot pay.

The former headmaster of Tepa Secondary School, anticipated that there will be mad rush by new students and day students to be in the boarding houses where every fee will be free.

Speaking with host of Abusua FM’s Abusua Nkommo Kwame Adinkra, Mr Anarfi- Mensah expressed worry that the policy will be an avenue for students (population) reduction in boarding schools.

‘The government should be able to absolve every students, there shouldn’t be a cut off point in the boarding school enrolment in the various schools. My fear is that majority of day students will also request to be in the boarding houses, and this is likely to create congestion and confusion in schools,’ he envisaged.

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The former headmaster of Tepa who is not pleased about the free SHS policy indicated that there is nothing new about it and that some of the fees have been free since independence.

‘There is nothing new about Nana Addo’s government free SHS policy, almost all the fees are absolved by government. Tuition and utility fees since independence have been free. Anybody who would say public students are charged those fees will be throwing dust in the eyes of the public. Utility bills for instance was paid by the NDC government. Lets look at the feasibility of the policy, I have doubts about its sustainability, because the chunk of the fees go into feeding and the backlog of arrears plus government subventions will be something freighting government cannot pay. If the President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo wants to implement this policy, its a good idea but I think its just a window dressing which will take place within only two terms, I doubt its sustainability,’ he expressed fear.

He questioned if the free SHS policy is absolute or relative free, envisaging that parents are likely to pay more to enrol their children.

‘Will the government continue with the free distribution of school uniforms by the erstwhile Mahama-led NDC government?,’ he asked.

The President has stated that the free SHS policy which will take effect September, 2017 will cover admission, library, science centre, computer lab, examination, utility, tuition and boarding fees.

He stressed that there will also be free textbooks, free meals for both boarding students and day students.

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