General News of Wed, 25 Jul 201854
Free SHS will remain free for all – Gabby Otchere-Darko
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s nephew, Gabby Otchere-Darko, has said every High School going student will continue to enjoy Free SHS despite the ongoing debate that those who have the means are made to pay for their children’s second-cycle education.
Implementation of the policy started in September 2017 with about 90,000 students. It covers the full fees of students who attend public senior high schools.
President Nana Akufo-Addo, last year, said the policy will ensure that Ghanaians who qualify for SHS are not burdened with financial difficulties.
Speaking as the special guest of honour at the 60th anniversary celebration of Okuapeman School in the Eastern Region on Saturday, February 11, 2017, President Akufo-Addo explained that: “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.”
“Free SHS”, he noted: “Will also cover agricultural, vocational and technical institutions at the high school level. I also want to state clearly again that we have a well-thought out plan that involves the building of new public senior high schools and cluster public senior high schools”.
Enrolment spiked as a result of the implementation, which had an adverse domino effect on school infrastructure.
There is an ongoing debate that government is channeling all state resources to sustain the programme and so, therefore, parents who can afford should be allowed to pay for their children’s education.
Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta in a recent interview on Accra-based Citi TV said: “I don’t think it [Free SHS] is something any of us can compromise on”, adding that: “It may be that there have to be changes in the way in which we are administering it”.
“I can’t take my child to Achimota or Odorgonno and then leave him or her and drive away and Ken Ofori-Atta not pay anything while I can pay for 10 people. … You need to get the data to then be discriminatory in how and who pays and who doesn’t pay”, he said.
Former Rector of the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), Professor Stephen Adei agrees with Mr Ofori-Atta.
Speaking on 505 news programme on Class91.3FM, he said: “…I don’t see why a billionaire should be having their children go to school for free.”
But Mr Otchere-Darko who is also the founder of the Danquah Institute in a tweet on Wednesday, 25 July 2018 said: “NPP was elected on a platform of free SHS for all and that’s what it is and will be. The debate over means testing will, nevertheless, continue and should continue. Healthy.”