General News of Mon, 13 Feb 201726

Free SHS will be strain on Ghana’s finances – ISSER

The implementation of the Free Senior High School programme by the Akufo-Addo-led government will come at huge cost to the country, Derrick Essuman, an economist at the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), has said.

President Nana Akufo-Addo on Saturday 11 February announced that the Free Senior High School (SHS) programme promised by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) prior to the December 7 elections will commence in September this year.

Mr Akufo-Addo, who was the Special Guest of Honour at the 60th anniversary celebration of Okuapeman School, indicated in his speech that “government will fund the cost of public senior high schools for all those who qualify for entry from September this year”.

He explained: “By Free SHS, we mean that, in addition to tuition which is already free, there will be no admission fees, no library fees, no science centre fees, no computer lab fees, no examination fees, no utility fees; there will be free textbooks, free boarding and free meals, and day students will get a meal at school for free.”

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The president further indicated that the policy would also cover agricultural, vocational, and technical institutions at the high school level.

Speaking in relation to this announcement in an interview with Emefa Apawu on Class91.3FM’s 505 programme on Monday February 13, Mr Essuman said: “For now we need to know the number of schools they intend to build. We need to know the number of students already in school. I am told there are about 800,000 students in our secondary institutions of which 500,000 are in boarding and 300,000-day students, so we need to know to know the actual number.

“I must admit that is going to be a huge cost on our national purse. It is going to lead to a huge increase in government expenditure in the coming years in this budget and the years to come, because essentially government is taking a responsibility from parents and that is huge.

In 2012, Akufo-Addo mentioned a figure around GHS 77million a year and we are in 2017. With inflation and other factors, we are expecting either a double figure or something close to that or GHS150 million a year.”

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