…In Educational Projects, Set To Pay For Teacher Motivation
By Frank Amponsah
Government has indicated its preparedness to ensure quality education under the Free SHS Policy by paying for teacher motivation so as not to compromise the success of the programme.
Government is also prepared to reserve 30% of placement allocation for students from deprived and less endowed schools into the free SHS policy which will commence in September this year as government is investing additional GH¢400 million investment in educational projects.
Minister of Education Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh who was addressing the media at the Meet the Press series yesterday, indicated that Government of Ghana is fully funding the free Senior High School programme and that, the Free Senior High School (SHS) policy being implemented by the Akufo-Addo-led government will cover only three years of every student’s second cycle education.
He explained that, a student who is repeated as a result of failing an exam or for any other reason will not enjoy the Free SHS for the fourth or subsequent years, whilst stressing that a Ghanaian student is qualified to access free SHS if he or she writes the 2017 Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) and is placed by Computerized School Selection and Placement System (CSSPS) into a Publicly funded Second Cycle Institution.
According to him, the commitment to the Free SHS policy that was scheduled to begin in the 2017/2018 academic year was an indication of the Akufo-Addo administration’s priorities and campaign promises of ensuring quality and free education for Ghanaian students.
He also explained that, the Free SHS policy being introduced by the NPP government will ensure equal opportunities for all students through the removal of cost barriers, enable students who otherwise would have terminated at the JHS level to acquire functional and employable skills through the acquisition of secondary education and enhance the human capital base of the country by making Secondary Education the minimum academic qualification in Ghana.
It will also improve quality of secondary education through reforms by ensuring systems improvement, accountability for performance and leadership and improve competitiveness of Ghanaian Students to match the best in the World whilst reversing the trend of poor learning outcomes and massive failures.
He emphasized that, as against fears that the project is undoable, the adding that the Free SHS is doable, and that “…government is “not oblivious of the obstacles. It is up to parents to invest in their children and motivate them to make it in life”.
Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh averred that government, in its maiden budget statement, allotted GHS400million to fund the Free SHS policy and that, in addition to tuition, which is already free, there will be no admission fees, no library fees, no science center fees, no computer lab fees, no examination fees, no utility fees whilst there will be free textbooks, free boarding and free meals, and day students will get a meal at school for free.
The Education Minister also mentioned that Ghana’s economic strains will not prevent the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government from effectively implementing its Free Senior High School education policy, and indicated that free secondary education has been part of Ghana since independence.
“What this particular policy seeks to do is to extend free secondary education to all Ghanaians who are in public senior high schools….we are not oblivious to the fact that it may mean many people going to school. So what! Education is better than ignorance in all its forms. Ghana has never been a rich country and when we started free secondary education after independence, Ghana wasn’t a rich country.”
He pointed out that Ghana has never been a rich country but has gone on the path of offering free secondary education to people since independence.
“…Ghana is not going to be a rich country today but we will still offer free secondary education to all those who secondary education in the public school.”
“That is life. When you decide your priorities and you put your money where your priorities lie. Those who want ignorance will tell us it’s not sustainable so should we stop? Those who love ignorance will tell you if it is not sustainable, stop. Those who love education will strive to make it worthwhile…”
He also added that government will pay for teacher motivation under the Free SHS policy and the quality of education under the programme will not be compromised.
The Minister also mentioned that under the Free SHS, all fees approved by the Ghana Education Service (GES) Council for first year students, other than PTA dues, will be absorbed by Government, including One-Time Fee Items for first Year students, both Day and Boarding, all recurrent Fee Items, feeding fees: 3 meals for boarders and 1 hot meal for all day students and subsidies for all continuing students in form two and three.