THE Minister of Education, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, has outlined the modalities for the implementation of government’s Free Senior High School policy, which starts in September 2017.
According to him, government will only fully fund the education of students over the three-year duration.
This means that students, who are repeated for non-performance, will subsequently have to pay their fees.
According to him, since the package covered each beneficiary for a period of three years, students were expected to bear the responsibility of studying hard and passing their exams; else they risked losing their slots, just as pertains under every scholarship programme.
He, therefore, called on parents and all stakeholders to support the students to maintain high standards and improve the quality of education.
The Education Minister said this at the government sponsored Meet-The-Press Series in Accra yesterday.
He also revealed that the World Bank and the Saudi Government would be funding efforts to provide comprehensive free Senior High School education.
Saudi Arabia to fund 42 model schools.
Concessionary funds will be sourced from the Saudi Government to construct 42 model schools, he said.
$40m from World Bank to rehabilitate 75 SHS
Explaining a feature of the plan to address quality, the Education Minister said $40million financing from the World Bank will target schools and students in low-performing districts.
"We have enough places to put almost all our BECE students. That is not the problem. The problem is that some schools are failing and failing so bad [that] nobody wants to go there".
Through the Secondary Education Improvement Project (SEIP), about 75 schools in 100 districts will get help through improving facilities, providing bursaries to needy students and providing educational supplies to enhance teaching and learning.
Quality issues to be addressed
Dr Opoku Prempeh, said the government has also inaugurated the National Council for Curriculum Assessment (NACCA), headed by Professor Kwame Osei Kwarteng, to review the syllabi of the various subjects and also access the process for selecting teaching and learning materials for the basic and secondary levels.
He further stressed that a student stands to benefit from free SHS once placed in a school by the Computerised School Selection Programme.
He said per the 2017 Budget Statement presented by the Minister of Finance to Parliament earlier this year, it would cost the Government a whooping GH¢400 million to implement the programme for the 2017/2018 Academic Year, adding that the cost of operation had been captured in 2017 fiscal policy statement, and approved by Parliament.
Dr Opoku Prempeh gave the assurance when the Ministry of Education took its turn at the Meet-the-Press series, in Accra yesterday to brief the media on the current status of the implementation of the Free SHS policy.
He said the government was committed to keeping its promise of ensuring wider access to secondary education for all Ghanaians.
He, however, said although free secondary education had existed in various forms such as scholarships and bursaries to minimal populations since independence, the present Free SHS policy would further extend these benefits to all students in public senior high schools for equity, quality and wider access.
Education better than ignorance
“We are not oblivious to the fact that it may mean many people going to school,” he pointed out, but said, having people educated was better than ignorance in all its forms.
The Government would, therefore, persist with its priority to offer free secondary education to all those who qualified.
Fees to be covered
He mentioned some of the fees to be absorbed under the programme as the one-time fee items for first-year students, which amounted to GH?435per day student and GH?438 for boarders, as well as recurrent fee items of GH?101.47 and GH?105.47 for day and boarding students, respectively.
Dr Opoku Prempeh said a unique aspect of the Free SHS policy was that it covered feeding for boarding students and a single hot meal for day students, books, Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) dues as well as teacher motivation fees for all beneficiaries.
He warned head teachers not to send students home for non-payment of PTA fees.