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We’ve initiated 1,011 SHS projects since 2017— NAPO

BY: Severious Kale-Dery & Fredrick Daoyenikye
Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh
Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh

There have been 1,011 infrastructural project initiatives in senior high schools (SHS) across the country since 2017, the Minister of Education, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, has said.

He explained that 492 of the projects had been completed, with the rest at various stages of completion.

Dr Prempeh, who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) for Manhyia South, revealed this when he took his turn to highlight the government's educational infrastructural drive at the Nation Building Update at the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences in Accra yesterday.

It was on the theme: “Nation Building Updates: Investing in education, investing in the future”.

Funding sources

 With respect to funding sources, he said 843 of the projects were initiated by the government through the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund), of which 382 had been completed.

The minister said 135 were initiated by the World Bank-funded Secondary Education Infrastructure Project (SEIP), out of which107 had been completed, while the remaining 33 were by the Kuwaiti Fund, of which three had been completed.

He listed the completed projects to include three-, six-, eight-, 12- and 18-unit classroom blocks, amounting to the creation of 84,600 new seats arising out of 222 new classroom blocks.
 
“Other projects include washroom facilities, rehabilitation works and structures such as assembly halls and laboratories,” he added.

Dr Prempeh explained that the massive infrastructural projects being undertaken were because the government made education a priority and was committed to funding it.

School choices

Giving a background to the massive infrastructural development in the educational sector, Dr Prempeh said the free SHS policy had been accompanied by high demand for certain schools due to the school choice system.

He said to ensure that no child was denied access to education, the government had invested in infrastructure to accommodate the extra numbers in those highly subscribed schools.

“In the 2018/19 school year, for instance, the number of junior high school (JHS) graduates who enrolled in SHSs exceeded the number that enrolled in the 2017/18 school year by 30.7 per cent,” he announced to thunderous applause.

Extra space

Dr Prempeh said the gap analysis showed that the government had to create an extra 181,993 spaces in SHSs to accommodate the increased number of students, especially in the elite SHSs.

He said as more children gained access to education, there was the need to invest in infrastructure at all levels in order to ensure that a conducive learning environment prevailed for quality outcomes.

GNPC

The Minister of Education expressed gratitude to the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) for completing 48 out of 150 school projects as its contribution to addressing school infrastructural challenges as a result of the free SHS policy.

He asked other corporate institutions to emulate the shining example of the GNPC by supporting the government’s infrastructural drive.

On TVET

On technical and vocational education, Dr Prempeh said since the government came into office, it had injected $800 million into upgrading and retooling.

He said all the technical universities had been upgraded, adding that 13 technical schools under the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programme were being upgraded under a Ghana-China facility, adding that all the 34 National Vocational Training Institutions (NVTI) were also being upgraded.

He announced that the government had established a specialised university known as the University of Skills Training and Entrepreneurial Development to train TVET teachers.

Tertiary education

Dr Prempeh said for the first time in the country, the government had developed a tertiary education policy and also approved Open University learning.

No utility bills

He further announced that the government had decided that, beginning from the 2020/21 academic year, no student would be required to pay utility bills.