Free boarding education takes off August – President

President Mahama, being assisted by the dignitories to cut the anniversary cake

President Mahama, being assisted by the dignitories to cut the anniversary cake

The second phase of the government’s Progressively Free Secondary Education programme would be launched in August this year to allow boarding students to access free education, President John Dramami Mahama has announced.

It follows the successful implementation of the first phase of the Progressively Free Senior High School (SHS) Education Programme that started with day students at the beginning of the 2015/2016 academic term.

More than 360,000 Day students have so far benefited.

“This year in August, we hope to launch the programme to cover boarding students in deprived communities,” the President said.

President Mahama, who made the announcement at the 70th anniversary celebration of Aburi Girls Senior High School at Aburi in the Eastern Region on Saturday, said the time was right for boarding students to be covered.

He said the free education programme which was aimed at increasing access to secondary education, would be complemented by the building of 200 Community Day SHSs, of which 123 of the schools are at different stages of completion, while some have been completed and in use.

In addition, he said the government was implementing World Bank and GETFund assisted projects to massively expand structures such as classroom blocks, dormitories, science laboratories and libraries in existing schools, which would all culminate in help to increase enrollment, improve educational infrastructure and promote quality education.

According to him, the government would continue to advance substantial investment in the education sector, explaining that the increased investment was in line with the government building a quality human resource base to propel the socio-economic development of the country.

He also cited various interventions in the tertiary and basic school sectors as well as teacher training, and technical and vocational skills training which have helped to revamp the education sector.

“The benefits of these huge investments are beginning to manifest,” he said, and gave assurance of more support for the sector.

Touching on youth literacy, President Mahama projected Ghana’s youth literacy rate to hit 100 per cent within the next decade.

According to him, recent statistics indicate that youth literacy rate in the country is at 80.5 per cent, indicating a huge leap from 64.8 per cent in the 2005/2006 academic year.

“Youth literacy, which used to be 55.8 per cent in 98/99 went up to 64.8 per cent in the 2005/2006 academic year and has recorded a huge jump to 80.5 per cent in the 2012/2013 academic year. We expect that over the next decade, we should achieve 100 per cent youth literacy,” he added.

Commenting on examination leaks, President Mahama commended the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) for taking the appropriate measures to prevent malpractices in the just ended Basic Education Certificate Examination.

“I am pleased also to note that WAEC has risen to the occasion to deal with the shameful examination malpractices that have plagued examinations over the past several years. This year, I am proud to note that our BECE examinations have passed with no incidence recorded.”

Turning his attention to Aburi Girls SHS, President Mahama commended the school for its academic excellence over the years and its immense contribution offering quality education to the youth.

To show the government’s appreciation and support, he promised that the government would complete the school’s dormitory block project, which was initiated by the Parent-Teacher Association a number of years ago.

In addition, he asked the GETFund to construct a 12-unit staff apartment block to ease the accommodation issues of the school.

He called on the past students to be guided by the school’s motto- “The light on the hill”- to contribute to the growth and development of Ghana.

The anniversary celebration which attracted hundreds of old girls, had the theme, “Aburi Girls @70: Forging ahead for greater heights in educational excellence.”

The school, which started in 1946 with only seven students currently runs three-year Senior High School system in General Science, General Arts, Business and Vocational programmes that prepares students for the West African Senior High School Examinations.

Ms. Rosemond Bampo, headmistress of the school, in her report, said the school had over the years distinguished itself in academic disciplines including science, mathematics and General Arts.

The school, she said, continued to provide holistic education that builds the students for the future, adding that the caliber of past students many of who have distinguished themselves in society, was indicative of the training offered by the school.

She thanked the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) and old students’ association for the cooperation and support, and called for more collaboration with advance the performance of the school.

Dr Christine Amoako-Nuamah, a former Minister of Education and an old student of the school, urged the old students, especially those occupying responsible positions, to serve as mentors to the current students and generation of young graduates.

From Edmund Mingle, Aburi

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