Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com
By William Yaw Owusu
Friday, September 18, 2015
The promise by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government that it was going to implement free senior high school (SHS), starting from the 2015/2016 academic year, appears to be a hoax.
It has emerged that the policy is going to be at a cost of only GH¢38 per day student, even though the Ghana Education Service (GES)-approved fees for day students is GH¢405.50, while their counterparts in the boarding house will pay GH¢724.50. Parents and guardians are therefore going to be saddled with about GH¢370 to support their day students’ education.
The government said it had released GH¢12 million for the implementation of the free SHS, starting with day students in the 2015/2016 academic year and it is expected to cover over 313,000 students.
Apart from the GES-approved fees, all other contingency costs are to be borne by parents and guardians and therefore the GH¢38 per student being offered by the government cannot be said to be free, according to an educationist.
“With the paltry amount set aside for the free SHS, it could only be concluded that the promise is only to score political points. “Because the New Patriotic Party’s flagbearer, Nana Akufo-Addo, told Ghanaians during the 2008 and the 2012 electioneering campaigns that when given the mandate his government was going to make education free up to the SHS level for both day and boarding students, President Mahama, who said the policy was not feasible, wants the people to find favour with his administration by claiming that he would make SHS free for day students,” the educationist, who pleaded anonymity, observed.
It will be recalled that President Mahama, in his State of the Nation address in February 2014, said emphatically that beginning from the 2015/2016 academic year, the payment of fees by day students in senior high schools would be abolished.
He had said the programme, which was going to cost the government about GH¢71 million in the first year of implementation, was in line with the government’s move to progressively make SHS education wholly free.
During the presentation of the 2015 supplementary budget on the floor of Parliament, Finance Minister, Seth Terkper, said categorically that only three of the Community Day SHSs nationwide would be ready for take-off for the 2015/2016 academic year.
Strangely, President John Mahama recently said 125 of the schools were ready for a take-off but could not specifically mention where the schools had been cited.
According to Joy FM, its checks in the Volta and the Northern Regions showed that work was progressing on the schools in these regions steadily.
It said schools were yet to be built in the Northern Region at places like Kpandai, Bunkpurugu, Namong in Yunyoo, Bamboi in Bole, Saboba, Nanumba North and Nanumba South.
Others are to be built at Malshegu in Sanerigu, Mion, Daboya in North Gonja and Mpaha in Central Gonja.
In the Volta Region, Joy FM said the building at Nkwanta South was 60% complete and would be ready in 10 months’ time as promised by the contractor. Other schools are to be built at Avenorkpeme in Akatsi South, Damanko in Nkwanta North, Volo in North Tongu and Krachi Ntsumuru in Krachi Ntsumuru.
In line with the NDC government’s manifesto to expand equitable access to secondary education, the president made two key campaign promises in the run-up to the 2012 elections which included building 200 community day senior high schools and implementing the constitutional obligation to make secondary education progressively free.
The NDC said at the time that it was determined to expand “physical access, with a focus on under-served areas and provide demand-side incentives for people to enrol in secondary education.”
The concept of the 200 schools commenced in March 2014 with sod-cutting by President Mahama at Nyanoa in the Upper West Akyem District of the Eastern Region for the construction of the first 50 schools.
World Bank Funding
In November 2014, he launched the Secondary Education Improvement Project (SEIP) in Kintampo - the second phase of the community day schools project - to commence the construction of 23 additional schools with ancillary facilities, supported with funding from the World Bank.
Under this phase of the project, facilities in 50 existing schools are being upgraded and 125 low performing schools are receiving investment in the form of science laboratories, libraries, additional classrooms, teachers’/staff flats, programme blocks (vocational, technical, business) and canteens.