Free SHS In 2015/16

president mahamaPresident John Dramani Mahama yesterday, presented the state of the Nation address to Parliament with an assurance that the government would abolish the payment of fees in public day Senior High School(SHS) by the 2015/2016 academic year.

He said the only fees that would be paid at the secondary school level would be fees payable by students in the boarding houses.

Consequently, he said government would be absorbing about GHC 71 million in school fees annually, starting from the 2015/2016 academic year.

President Mahama, who announced this when he delivered an address on the state of the nation in Parliament yesterday, said the decision, which was taken in consultations with stakeholders, is in line with Article 25(1) (b) of the 1992 constitution.

According to that provision in the constitution, secondary education in its different forms, including technical and vocational education, shall be made generally available and accessible to all by every appropriate means, and in particular, by the progressive introduction of free education.

As part of efforts to rebrand technical and vocational education and give it the important attention it deserves, President Mahama indicated that he would announce the formal process to convert 10 polytechnics into technical universities before the end of the year.

He announced that a draft bill for the establishment of a public university in the Eastern Region was ready and would be presented to Parliament for consideration.

The President indicated that the Bening-Amoako-Nuamah committee has completed work on the nature, specialization, proposed academic mandate and specific location of the university.

He said progress was being made with the two latest public universities-University of Health and Allied Sciences and the University of Energy and Natural Resources in the Volta and the Brong-Ahafo regions respectively.

While the intake of the university in the Volta region had shot up from 155 students at its inception three years ago to 533, that of the Brong-Ahafo has increased its intake from 150 students to 716 currently, he said, hinting of plans by government to set up satellite campuses in Hohoe, Dormaa Ahenkro and Nsoatre.

“Government’s programme to construct 200 new community day secondary schools is on track,” he said, adding that a ground breaking ceremony would take place on March 3, to commence the first batch of the schools.

He indicated that architectural drawings, designs and quantities have been completed, sites have been selected and the procurement process ongoing.

Following an exercise to rationalize the payment of school fees, President Mahama cautioned against the charging of unapproved fees, which tended to overburden parents.

He urged that school heads who charge fees in contravention of the standardized fees should be reported to the authorities.

President Mahama indicated that the government’s intention to operationalize a National Research Fund to promote research and innovation in the various institutions of learning, and appealed to stakeholders to support the committee that would make recommendations on modalities for accessing the fund. By Edmund Mingle & Samuel Nuamah

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