General News of Fri, 22 Dec 20173
Scholarship Secretariat can handle Free SHS funds – Aheto Tsegah
A former Ghana Education Service Director, Charles Aheto Tsegah, sees nothing wrong with government allocating funds for the implementation of the Free SHS policy to the Scholarship Secretariat.
He explained that the basis for which the government has taken this decision is to label the Free SHS money as a scholarship.
“By labeling it as a scholarship, it moves away from the Ministry of Education budget into the account or the budget of the office of government business where the Scholarship Secretariat is located,” Mr. Tsegah explained on Eyewitness News.
In his view, “within that context, it is right for the government to say that money is a scholarship money, and it will be handled and managed by the scholarship secretariat.”
The former GES director was speaking in relation to the Minority in Parliament’s concerns that the government’s decision to allow the Scholarship Secretariat to administer funds for the free senior high school policy was illegal.
The Minority-based its argument on the GES Act which states that the Service shall be responsible for the implementation of approved national policies and programmes relating to pre-tertiary education.
Mr. Tsegah, however, noted that the free SHS policy was modeled after the Northern Scholarship, which is “ a resource the Ghana Education Service never handled.”
The Northern Secretariat allocates monies to respective schools under the Northern scholarship to be utilized, but the Northern Scholarship has been saddled with well-documented problems of its own in the past, with delayed payment of bursaries becoming almost an annual occurrence.
Mr. Tsegah acknowledged the past problems of the Northern Scholarship but said the Scholarship Secretariat was not really at fault for problems having to do with the late release of funding.
He explained that “once the secretariat gets the money, it sends it immediately. So the problem is not really a Scholarship Secretariat matter. It probably has to do with the amount of money that government has to release at a specific point in time for the specific purpose of feeding students and providing other services.”
Mr. Tsegah held an optimistic outlook on the matter saying there was a “clear commitment” from the government because some arrears are so far being settled relating to school feeding, among others.
“There are two sides to it; the attitude displayed by the government, if it is anything to go by, raises some hope. But if you look at the history, then one has reason to be really concerned,” he stated.