A total of 362,118 first-year students from public Senior High Schools across the country are currently benefiting from the government’s fee-free education policy, the Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta has said.Presenting the 2018 mid-year fiscal policy review in Parliament Thursday, he explained that of the figure, 117,692 are day students with 244,426 being boarders.
The government, he said since the implementation of the policy in 2017, released GH¢899,524,466.30 for the 2017/18 academic year whilst sufficient allocation had been made in the 2018 budget to cover the first term of the 2018/19 academic year.
Touching on what the government had done to address the initial challenges of the fee-free education policy, Mr. Ofori-Atta said “96,413 mono desks, 32,171 dining hall furniture, 3,033 tables and chairs for teachers, 12,953 bunk beds, 4,335 student mattresses, and 5,135 computer laboratory chairs have been supplied to schools.”
On the NaBCo, Mr. Ofori-Atta said GH¢600million was provided in the 2018 budget to ensure effective implementation of the policy, out of which GH¢30million was released to take care of the initial cost of the programme.
Again, he noted that in consonance with the policy to reinstate the nursing trainee allowances, an amount of GH¢311,988,400 was allocated in the 2018 Budget to pay the allowances of 68,000 trainee nurses for the 2017/18 and the first semester of the 2018/2019 academic year.
As at end of June 2018, Mr. Ofori-Atta further noted that GH¢122,400,000 had been released to pay the allowances of 51,000 beneficiary trainees.
On the teacher trainee allowances, Mr. Ofori-Atta said the sum of GH¢177, 511, 600 was allocated for the payment of allowances to 49,032 teacher trainees in 41 colleges of education, out of which GH¢78,451,200, representing 44% was released to pay for teacher trainee allowances for the second semester.
On the National School Feeding Programme, Mr. Ofori-Atta stated that the programme engaged 8,000 new caterers and introduced new caterer contracting guidelines, which requires caterers to purchase food items from local farmers and fishermen, with the programme being GH¢423,795,500, out of which GH¢229,310,000, representing 54.11% has been released and an additional amount of GH¢285,304,109 was released to clear arrears owed caterers from 2015.