General News of Fri, 1 Sep 201720

GNAT still unconvinced about Akufo-Addo's free SHS

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The Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) says government’s free SHS programme might be undermined if issues relating to funds are not addressed before it is rolled out.

The largest teaching body said the Education Ministry has refused to make funding available to the schools ahead of the arrival of fresh students, despite repeated calls.

Acting GNAT President, Philippa Larsen told Joy News’ Ernest Manu heads of schools will be cash-strapped if the Ministry does not reconsider its position.

“You know that in this particular package as soon as the students report you have to make sure they are accommodated, [and] are made comfortable in terms of feeding so a certain percentage [say] 20 or 30 could be released,” she said.

The free SHS programme will be rolled out in September and hundreds of junior high school (JHS) students are expected to benefit from it.

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Under the programme, first year students who qualified to the senior high secondary schools will not be charged admission, library, science centre, computer laboratory, examination and utilities fees.

The free SHS logo was launched on Thursday by the President, announcing government's preparedness to roll out the programme in the coming weeks. But GNAT said the programme might not witness a smooth take-off as has been anticipated if some funds are not made available to schools to cater for some needs.

"The Education Minister said when the students report you have to submit a list of students before disbursement is made," Mrs Larsen lamented. In his defense, the programme Coordinator, William Darkwah has explained some monies would be made available to the schools but not the entire package.

He said the Free SHS Secretariat wants to be convinced about the number of students the schools admit before the "bulk" of the money would be disbursed.

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