The government has promised to release funds for the smooth roll out of the free senior high school (SHS) policy by the close of this week.
Addressing the 55th National Conference of the Conference of Heads of Assisted Secondary Schools (CHASS) in Ho, a Deputy Minister of Education, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, told the school heads: “Your money will soon hit your accounts” and indicated that money for the upkeep of the schools would, by the close of the conference on Friday, be in the various accounts of the schools.
He was responding to concerns raised by CHASS regarding the delay in releasing funds to second-cycle institutions a few days to the reopening of schools.
The deputy minister said the government was aware of the challenge and was committed to ensuring that the schools received their funding to enable the free SHS policy to take off smoothly.
“We have no reason to keep your money, since we will not give you responsibility and not equip you to execute same,” he said.
Dr Adutwum said the policy would, within the next three years, absorb the feeding grant and added that first-year students in schools in the northern part of the country would be part of the policy.
“This is to ensure uniformity across the country in terms of funds for schools,” he said.
Problem with placement solved
He also indicated that the initial challenges experienced with the placement system had been resolved and admonished school heads not to discriminate against any student who was placed in their schools.
He said as of last Tuesday, 211,000 students had been able to access the system and printed their letters because of improvement in the network, while 70,000 of those engaged in self-placement had had the opportunity to place themselves in various schools.
Dr. Adutwum said CHASS should focus on student-centred educational reforms to improve performance.
“The era when 30 per cent of students passed the WASSCE should be over. It is unacceptable that every year 70 per cent of SHS students did not have the opportunity to move up to the tertiary level,” he said.
He advocated mechanisms and interventions that would ensure that all students succeeded in their academic pursuits.
CHASS committed to free SHS
The President of CHASS, Mrs Cecilia Kwakye Cofie, said the group was committed to seeing the policy work, as it too was excited about the policy, just like parents and guardians.
“Heads of schools are the happiest because the act of collecting school fees is a daunting task,” she said, adding that its implementation would lift that burden of chasing students for their school fees off headmasters and headmistresses.
According to her, free SHS would bring “greater and meaningful participation” to the country’s democratic process, since the literacy rate could improve.
In addition, she said, the policy would strengthen national cohesion because students of diverse socio-economic backgrounds would be accessing SHS on the same financial terms.
Mrs Cofie demanded a blueprint for the implementation of the free SHS policy, explaining that it would guide school heads to effectively implement the policy in all public schools.
It is estimated that over 400,000 BECE candidates will benefit from the government’s flagship policy.
The 55th CHASS conference is on the theme: “Educational reforms and policies in Ghana: Effects on society and the way forward”.