Free SHS education to begin next academic year
The Minister of Education, Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang says the programme to make second cycle education more accessible, especially in underserved areas, is on course.
To give greater meaning to the programme, the government initiated a project to build 200 community day secondary schools in selected communities.
The President cut the sod for the commencement of the first phase of the project with the construction of 50 schools on March 3, 2014 at Kwaobaah-Nyanoa, near Adeiso in the Upper West Akyem District of the Eastern Region.
When the education ministry took its turn at the meet the press series in Accra Tuesday, Prof Opoku-Agyemang said the 50 schools in selected communities were at various stages of completion.
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She said the government’s policy of the progressive free SHS education would begin as announced in the 2015/2016 academic year for more than 367,565 second cycle students.
Additionally, she said, with support from the World Bank under the Secondary Education Improvement Project (SEIP), the construction of 23 new schools, with bungalows for staff and heads, facilities improvement for 50 existing schools, quality improvement for 125 existing schools and the provision of scholarships for 10,400 students were all progressing.
The minister gave progress reports on the 20 educational institutions and agencies under the ministry.
She gave some of the highlights as improvements in teacher training and professional development, the institution of a best school award this year and the standardisation of school fees across the country.
On teacher training and development, the goal was to increase the numbers and quality of trained teachers in language, Mathematics and Science, Prof. Opoku-Agyemang said that a teacher career progression policy to guide the licensing and registration of teachers, as well as an appraisal system to measure teacher effectiveness as a criteria for promotion had been instituted.
On the institution of best schools award, Prof. Opoku-Agyemang said it would be an expansion of the Best Teacher Award initiative.
She said a committee of teacher unions, representations from teaching universities, past best teacher coordinators, retired directors of education and chairpersons of best teacher assessment panels were helping the ministry to expand the best teacher award scheme to cover the acknowledgement of schools.
The objective, she explained, would be to reward teaching and support services.
On the standardisation of school fees, the minister said all stakeholders had held consultative discussions to agree on standardised fees, based on the needs of schools.
Prof. Opoku Agyemang said the Campus Connect initiative, instituted to strengthen relations between the government and the student body, would be strengthened in fulfilment of the President’s pledge to promote accountable and transparent governance.
Prof. Opoku-Agyemang said a procurement process for locally made leather shoes had been completed for the shoes to be distributed to needy school children.
She said the ministry was also currently procuring 500,000 school uniforms and 15 million exercise books to be distributed to 36,686 basic schools.