The government is to upgrade 42 senior high schools (SHSs) into model schools under its flagship free SHS programme and rehabilitate dilapidated ones to create more space and the enabling environment for studies.
Speaking at a press conference to outline the implementation of the government’s policy on free SHS education in Sunyani, a Deputy Minister of Education, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, reiterated the government’s commitment to ensure quality education by addressing inequalities through the elimination of cost barriers under the free SHS policy expected to kick-start in September this year.
Explaining the criteria involved in the upgrading of the 42 SHSs into model schools, he said the ministry would focus on the location of the schools, including the district and areas with a high number of junior high schools (JHSs).
“If there are elite SHSs in any district, we will not construct a new school there. We will opt to upgrade the elite schools, instead of building new ones. We will only build new public schools where necessary,” Dr Adutwum stated.
The Ministry of Education, in collaboration with the Ministry of Information, is engaging the media to equip them with first-hand information on the implementation of the free SHS policy to help them educate the public on the policy.
Benefits of free SHS
Dr Adutwum said the free educational policy would lessen the burden on parents and guardians and increase enrolment at the SHS level, emphasising that each year more than 100,000 students were denied entry into shs due to financial problems.
According to him, it was the government’s aim to implement policies and programmes under the free SHS policy that would create opportunities for all students in public schools across the country.
He said the ministry had put in place mechanisms to ensure the early release of funds and learning and teaching materials, adding that the ministry would not tolerate unnecessary collection of money from students under the policy.
Fees to be absorbed
Dr Adutwum spelt out what was entailed in the free SHS policy, re-emphasising that “there will be no admission fee, no library fee, no science centre fee, no computer lab fee, no examination fee, no utility fee; there will be free textbooks, free boarding and free meals, while day students will get a meal at school for free.”
He stated that all fees approved by the Ghana Education Service (GES) Council for first-year students, other than parent-teacher association (PTA) dues, would be absorbed by the government.
He explained that one-time fee items for each first-year day student would amount to GH¢435, while that of each boarding student would amount to GH¢438.
He said the free SHS policy would also cover all recurrent fee items, amounting to GH¢101.47 for day students and GH¢105.47 for boarding students.
On kindergarten education, Dr Adutwum indicated that the government would construct about 1,000 kindergartens to strengthen basic education in the country, disclosing that more than 1,500 basic schools did not have kindergartens attached to them.