We have had to return to the issue of the Senior High Schools (SHSs) today, the second time within the last 72 hours, in view of some issues that have come to our attention within the period.
On Monday, we carried a story from the 68th anniversary celebration of the Winneba SHS in which the immediate past headmistress of the school, speaking as the guest for the occasion and the president of the Conference of Heads of Assisted Secondary Schools (CHASS), lamented the non-release of scholarships, subsidies and food supplies to the SHSs, making it difficult for the schools to run smoothly.
As it turned out, per circulars sent to the schools by the Ghana Education Service (GES), the heads were expected to submit returns on the funds released to them by the GES under the implementation of the free SHS policy to enable the service to make further payments (if any) for the running of their schools.
It is unfortunate to note, however, that out of the 674 public senior high schools in the country which were expected to file returns, only 56 (less than 10 per cent), have submitted their returns, more than eight weeks into the first term of the academic year.
We recall that at the roll-out of the Free Senior High School policy, the government made an upfront payment of 20 per cent of the funds required to run the schools based on the number of students the heads indicated they would admit to help them acquire perishable food items and cover other costs of running their schools.
The rest of the funds were to be released to the schools upon the submission of returns by the heads to the GES on the number of students they had enrolled.
As we said in our opinion piece last Monday, it is imperative for the government and its agencies to take all the necessary steps to provide what the schools need to run smoothly.
In the view of the Daily Graphic, however, much of the responsibility for ensuring that the schools have enough funds to run became that of the heads of the 674 public schools once they were required to submit returns before any further payments.
That a majority of the heads have failed to submit their returns would be seen as an attempt to introduce impediments in the smooth running of the Free SHS programme.
We call on the majority of the heads of the second cycle schools who have as yet not submitted their returns to do so without any delay.
For, it is only when they have met their side of the contract would they be justified to point accusing fingers at the GES and the Ministry of Education for any delays in the reimbursement of funds.
The country has in the past experienced various difficulties in the running of our schools and every step must be taken to ensure that these challenges are resolved so that attention can be directed towards improving the academic performance of our students.