General News Wed, 22 Nov 2017
Only 56 out of the 674 public senior high schools (SHSs) in the country have so far submitted their returns on the funds released to them under the implementation of the Free Senior High School (SHS) policy.None of the well-endowed schools have submitted their returns.
No school in the Volta, Upper East and Upper West regions has submitted any returns either, while one and two schools in the Western and Ashanti regions respectively, have submitted theirs.
Four schools each in the Brong Ahafo, Central and Eastern regions have submitted their returns while five schools in the Greater Accra Region have also submitted their returns.
The Northern Region is the only one that has the highest number of 36 schools submitting their returns.
Under the implementation of the Free SHS programme, all schools received an upfront payment of 20 percent of their funds, based on the number of students that they had stated they could admit.
This was to help them acquire perishable food items for feeding the students and also for the general running of the schools.
The Director-General of the Ghana Education Service (GES), Prof. Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa, who disclosed this in an interview, explained that “the balance was to be released to a school once it has submitted its returns to the GES on the number of students they have actually enrolled and the necessary deductions made.”
So-called first-class schools
Prof. Opoku-Amankwa said, strangely, none of the so-called first-class schools had submitted their returns, stating, for instance, that in the Central Region, those that had submitted their returns were Eguafo-Abrem SHS, Bisease SHS, Swedru School of Business and Enyanmaim Community SHSs.
He added that in the Ashanti Region, Asare Bediako SHS and Adomewure SHS were the only schools that had submitted theirs, while the Accra Girls’ SHS, Tema SHS, Our Lady of Mercy SHS, Ada Technical Institute and Odorgonno SHSs, all in the Greater Accra Region, had also submitted their returns.
Team on tour
Prof. Opoku-Amankwa said the GES had decided that it would process the returns it had received so far for the remaining funds to be made available to the schools.
He indicated that a team made up of the Chairman of the GES Council, acting Deputy Director-General of the GES, the Coordinator of the Free SHS Secretariat and a representative of the National Food Buffer Stock Company had embarked on a nationwide tour from November 20 which would end on December 8, 2017 to meet heads of schools to address such challenges.
He added that the service was hopeful that the heads of schools would take advantage of the tour and submit their returns to enable the GES to reconcile with their figures and be able to disburse the rest of the funds allocated to them.
Outgoing CHASS President
Referring to a comment by the outgoing CHASS President, Mrs Cecilia Kwakye Coffie, to the effect that even though heads of schools had submitted the enrolment figures and also engaged the government on several occasions, nothing was forthcoming; he said Mrs Coffie was not being honest with the truth.
Prof. Opoku-Amankwa stated that Mrs Coffie and CHASS contributed in the discussions they had prior to the arrangements agreed on before the implementation of the Free SHS programme, and was, therefore, surprised that she would choose to make such statements.
Mrs Coffie was quoted as saying that “it is a fact that heads of schools are under serious pressure but are afraid to voice it, for fear of intimidation and sanction.”