The Minister of Education, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, has described as inaccurate reports that the increased enrollment under the Free Senior High School policy, is solely to blame for cases of congestion and infrastructure deficit being experienced in some schools.
Speaking during a Meet the Press session on Thursday, the Minister buttressed his point by indicating that, some of the notable reports of infrastructure deficit, were in schools with fewer students than the capacity on record.
He cited Vitting SHS in Tamale and La Presbyterian SHS in Accra, where infrastructure challenges were brought to light by Citi News.
La Presby SHS first’s years were seen studying on cement blocks in uncompleted classrooms, whiles students of Vitting SHS were sleeping on verandas and under trees because of pressure on their limited infrastructure.
The quality aspect of the Free SHS policy was called into question when it emerged first years studying on blocks
La Presby SHS has since benefitted from desks donated by McDan Shipping and the La Dadekotopon Assembly, whilst the Northern Regional Minister has been to Vitting SHS on a fact-finding mission.
But for these two schools, in particular, Dr. Opoku Prempeh said their headmasters had even requested more students but were given less, and so the government could not be blamed for the pressure on their facilities.
“There is one particular school, Vitting, that the head’s letter to us requested 533 students. As at now, 517 students are enrolled. How did we [the government] or free SHS cause congestion in Vitting. The head said he could accommodate 533. As we speak, it is not 533 that have registered but 517. But Vitting is reported as free SHS causing congestion. ”
For La Presby, he recalled that the school’s administration “asked for 607. As we speak, it is 533 in that school. But La Presby has been touted as the poster boy of Free SHS… is it Free SHS that has caused that problem in La Presby,” the minister questioned.
Infrastructure relief for schools
This notwithstanding, the government has already put in place measures to alleviate these challenges as an amount of Ghc80 million cedis has been allocated to address the challenges relating to furniture and beds. President Nana Akufo-Addo recently announced that, contracts will soon be awarded for the provision of 69,500 single desks and 13,100 bunk beds to Senior High Schools across the country.
“…so those that have brought the list, we have done tenders and we will be buy them an supply them to the schools. But I sincerely believe that if the government is determined to do this, A child should still have access to the school to study and learn than to be thrown on the street at the age of 15,” Dr. Opoku Prempeh said.