General News of Tue, 12 Sep 20177
Free SHS takes off with excitement, challenges
Parents and guardians of first-year students benefiting from the free senior high school (SHS) policy on Monday thronged the various SHSs across the country to register their children and wards.
The first day of registration, which also coincided with the take-off of the government’s flagship educational programme, was not without challenges.
Challenges with network, lack of prospectus and large numbers of students created some scenes in some of the schools, while other schools went through the registration exercise smoothly.
Under the free SHS policy, about 400,000 Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) candidates who qualified for admission to SHS are expected to enjoy free tuition, textbooks, meals, library usage, admission, examination, uniforms and Students Representative Council (SRC) dues.
To ensure the successful implementation of the policy, the government, on September 8, 2017, released GH¢280 million out of the GH¢486 million required for the flagship programme.
In the run-up to the 2012 and the 2016 general elections, the New Patriotic Party (NPP), led by then candidate Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, made free SHS a major campaign promise.
President Akufo-Addo will officially launch the policy at the West Africa SHS at Adenta today.
To ensure smooth registration processes, the schools assembled all parents and guardians in their assembly halls, where they took the latter through the various processes.
Although parents and guardians were seen in long queues in some of the SHSs visited by the Daily Graphic, they expressed deep satisfaction with the entire registration process.
Though many of the parents expressed satisfaction with the efficiency of the process, some expressed worry that their children were to be day students, instead of boarders.
At the Wesley Grammar School at Dansoman, the Headmaster, Mr Charles Kweku Baidoo, was seen patiently attending to and directing desperate parents to the school’s notice boards to check their children’s names, as well as to the assembly hall to pick prospectus to go through the registration process.
Parents who could not find their children’s names on the notice boards were directed to the library to wait for their turn to be called to verify if their children had been placed in the school.
Sharing his view on the registration process, Mr Kofi Korankye, a parent who had travelled from Kumasi to verify his son’s admission, commended the government for initiating the free SHS policy which he described as a timely pro-poor policy that would alleviate the struggle parents went through to educate their children in second-cycle schools.
He also praised the authorities of the school for the orderly manner in which they carried out the entire registration process, saying: “I am so pleased with the attitude shown towards parents by staff of the school, especially the headmaster.”
“This is something positive parents rarely see during admission periods each year,” he added.
Mr Bruce Arthur, a parent from Takoradi, also commended the staff of the school for showing positive attitudes towards parents.
“I am so impressed with the way staff of the school speak to worried parents,” he said.
St Mary’s, Korle Bu
When the Daily Graphic visited the St Mary’s SHS at Korle Bu about 10 a.m., the headmistress was seen busily attending to parents.
Some parents who spoke to the Daily Graphic were extremely glad with the implementation of the free SHS policy.
“For the first time in my life, I am making huge savings on the budget I have made for my daughter’s education. Instead of paying more than GH¢3,000, I am only being asked to pay GH¢25 as parent-teacher association (PTA) development levy,” Mr Cephas Matey, a parent from Korle Bu in Accra, stated.
When the Daily Graphic visited the Accra High SHS about 1 p.m., the registration process there had been closed for the day but a handful of fresh students were spotted hanging around the school compound.
“As a non-boarding school, we were able to complete the registration process for parents as early as 12 noon today,” a source at the school told the Daily Graphic.
A parent, Mr Kojo Opoku from Cape Coast, said he had arrived in the school as early as 10 a.m. to complete the registration process for his son and commended the authorities of the school for ensuring an easy registration exercise.
At Accra Academy, the Daily Graphic saw parents and their children going through the registration process.
It was observed that the process had been fashioned out in a manner that ensured orderliness.
Parents began the process by verifying the names of their children on a list posted at the administration block and picked their serial numbers to facilitate the online registration.
The only setback was that most students from Accra were frustrated by the decision to deny them boarding status.
The Headmaster, Reverend William Garr, said the situation was so because boarding facilities were limited and so the school gave priority to students coming from outside Accra.
On the registration process, he said it started as early as 8 a.m. and was progressing smoothly without any challenges as of 11 a.m. when the news team spoke to him.
He said the school made a request for 680 students and that at the time of granting the interview, it had 635 students.
He was optimistic that the deficit would be covered by the time the placement was over.
“So far we have encountered no challenges with the system, and we are hoping that by Wednesday all the students would have registered to report to school officially on Thursday, September 14, 2017,” he said.
The Daily Graphic sighted notices posted at various places on the school compound informing parents of an orientation for fresh students and their parents on Thursday.
Accra Wesley Girls
The situation was the same at the Accra Wesley Girls’ High School, where it was observed that the registration process was progressing smoothly and orderly.
The Headmistress, Mrs Cynthia Annan, said the school requested for 400 students but currently 335 students had been placed.
He was optimistic that more students would be placed in the school by the end of the national placement exercise.
She said because the school was a day school, the students were made to stay after registration, while their parents went home, as part of the familiarisation process.
From Bolgatanga, Alhandu Abdul-Hamid reports that SHSs in the Upper East Region faced network challenges while processing admission letters for first-year students.
At the Bolgatanga Girls’ SHS, the Headmistress, Mrs Rose Avonsige, said the school authorities were expected to do the admissions online but the network went down, creating a lot of anxiety.
She, however, said efforts were being made to restore the system.
She said 477 prospective students had been placed in the school and the school was ready to receive them, adding: "If one is able to go through the admission process, she can even report today."
A visit to the Bolgatanga Technical Senior High School at 12.30 p.m. revealed that the network had just started working, but at a slow pace.
The Principal of the school, Mr Samari Amare, said the authorities spent the morning trying to get through to the hotline, as the network was totally down.
He said 826 prospective students had been placed in the school.
From Tema, Della Russel Ocloo reports that a number of first-year students who were posted to various schools within the Tema metropolis could not complete the registration process because of the unavailability of prospectus which were said to be in short supply in the schools.
At the Tema SHS, parents who had accompanied their children to the school to complete the registration process were left disappointed when they were asked to come back to the school on Wednesday to pick up prospectus.
The situation was, however, different at the Chemu SHS, where a handful of students were able to complete the registration process.
Parents and their children trooped to the schools in various parts of the Western Region to start the registration process under the government’s free SHS programme, reports Dotsey Koblah Aklorbortu from Sekondi/Takoradi.
The Daily Graphic visited the St John School, the Sekondi, Bompeh and Archbishop Potter Girls’ SHSs and Ghana Secondary Technical School where prospective students presented their admission letters and were offered prospectus.
Some parents, after receiving the prospectus, demanded the other items such as shoes and school uniforms which are supposed to be part of the free SHS policy.
Samuel Duodu reports that the Assistant Headmaster of the Northern Business School (NOBISCO) in Tamale, Mr Douglas Yakubu, said 630 students were placed in the school.
One of the first-year students told the Daily Graphic that he was hopeful to go through the admission process to enjoy the free SHS education promised by the government.
A parent who had brought her daughter from Ejura in the Ashanti Region to the school told this reporter that after he had submitted the placement letter, he was told to go and come back on Wednesday with the daughter.
Meanwhile, there was anxiety among some parents this reporter met at the Tamale SHS (TAMASCO) who said they were confused as to what to do, as the school was yet to receive the placement letters they sent there.
Admission processes for new SHS students in Cape Coast were relatively smooth, reports Shirley Asiedu Addo.
Parents and their children trooped to schools in Cape Coast to take their admission letters.
The admission process was going on smoothly when the Daily Graphic visited some of the schools.
At the Aggrey Memorial Zion School, students who found their names on the admission list posted on the notice boards took their admission letters and prospectus at the assembly hall.
A total of 437 students had their names on the list.
At the Holy Child School, the measurements of the new students were taken for uniforms as they took their prospectus.
Mr Joseph Cornell, the Headmaster of St Augustine's College, said 601 students had been placed in the school.
He said the school started giving out admission letters last Thursday and indicated that a few had already reported to school.
Kofi Atsivor reports from Ho that anxious parents and their children were seen yesterday in long winding queues waiting to go through the admission process.
Some of the parents who interacted with the Daily Graphic said they arrived in the schools as early 5 a.m. from locations such as Aflao, Sogakope, Anyako, Accra, among other places, to complete the admission process.
At the Mawuli School in Ho, about 320 out of the expected 603 fresh students had completed the admission process between last Friday and 1 p.m. yesterday, with a lot more waiting for their turn.
The situation was not different at the E.P.C. Mawuko Girls’ SHS, where about 36 out of the 630 expected students had also successfully completed the process as of 1 p.m. yesterday.
One major challenge that hindered the smooth flow of the process on the first day was the intermittent hiccups with network connectivity on which the school authorities were supposed to verify the placement of prospective students before proceeding with the admission process.
Mr Forgive Agoha, the Public Relations Officer of the Volta Regional Education Directorate, told the Daily Graphic that aside from the network connectivity problem, there were instances when the names of some prospective students could not be found on the master lists of the schools.