General News of Mon, 11 Sep 201710

Free SHS: Schools risk being closed down – NDC MPs warn

The Minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) Caucus in Parliament has warned that Ghana risks closing down its Senior High Schools (SHS) in the coming few days if funding for the implementation of the government’s free-SHS policy does not hit the accounts of the schools.

One of the government’s flagship programmes– the free SHS policy took off on Monday, September 11, 2017, but the implementation has been fraught with some challenges.

Issues ranging from the Computerized School Selection Placement System (CSSPS) to funding are some of the major challenges confronting the implementation of the free SHS policy.

On Friday, September 8, 2017, the government through the Ministry of Finance announced the release for disbursement half of the GH?486 million earmarked for the free SHS policy.

The money was expected to have hit the accounts of the various public SHS before they re-open on Monday for classes to begin.

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Over 400,000 first year students are expected to benefit from the free SHS policy this academic.

However, there are SOS calls from some heads of the SHS that they haven’t received any amount of money from the government to warrant the admission into their schools the first year students.

This, the Minority NDC MPs at a press conference in Accra on Monday, noted that the situation could spell doom for the successful rollout of the free SHS policy and urged the government to ensure that funding for the policy is released timeously.

“The Conference of Heads of Secondary Schools (CHASS) has also noted with deep concern how several promises made to them by government that releases for the Progressively Free SHS will get to them two weeks before school re-open have not been kept. Several other deadlines have been missed.

The next time they could as well be pledging that a day before school reopens, we will make your releases available. Ladies and gentlemen of the press, we want you to appreciate this for tomorrow that we risk tomorrow schools being closed down because releases and financing for feeding and other related expenditure is not ready and have not been released by the Minister for Finance.

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“That will further worsen and aggravate the situation of students and parents, and particularly, the head teachers who take over the parental role at that particular time. But we know that it will happen. There will be times that particularly, when the releases at a time that they are to pay salaries. They will struggle and they will sweat.

We’ve been there before. The focus will be on getting salaries paid and therefore getting these releases to get the schools function properly and effectively will become problematic for all of us,” noted the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu.

He added “One wonders how the NPP government expects heads of schools to secure suppliers for food, uniforms, and house clothes for boarders among others under the current unacceptable circumstances caused by a government that has a long tradition of poor planning and weak policy implementation.”

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