Beginning September this year, all Ghanaian students who will be admitted into the various public senior high schools (SHS) will not pay any fees, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said.
He said the government would roll out the comprehensive Free SHS Education Policy in the next academic year to ease the cost burden of high school education in the country.
“The government will fund the cost of public senior high school education for all those who qualify for entry from the 2017/2018 academic year onwards.”
“By Free SHS, we mean that in addition to tuition, there will be no admission fees, no library fees, no science resource centre fees, no computer lab fees, no examination fees, and no utility fees,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo was speaking at the 60th anniversary celebration of Akuapeman SHS at Akwapim in the Eastern Region over the weekend.
Under the Free SHS policy, he said the government would also take up the cost of accommodation for boarders, feeding, and provide free meals for day students.
He said the policy would also cover agricultural, vocational and technical institutions at the high school level.
The President indicated that the government had a well thought out plan to build more schools across the country to accommodate the increase in number of intake under the policy.
The poor standard of education in the country, according to the President, was the missing link in the country’s economic development and reiterated the government’s commitment to improve the standard of education in the country.
“I am committed without any equivocation, without any reservation, without any doubt to take Ghana to the stage where public SHS education will be free for every Ghanaian child.”
“I want every Ghanaian child to attend secondary school, not just for what they will learn in books, but for the life experiences that they will gain,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo urged parents to nurture their children with pride and help them to mature into confident adults.
On the government’s plans for teachers, he said a well-trained and confident teacher was at the heart of the government’s delivery of quality education and indicated that their professional development and need would be treated with respect.
“We shall ensure that teachers’ salaries and allowances are paid regularly and on time. Teacher trainee allowances will be restored in the first budget of the Akufo-Addo presidency scheduled next month,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo noted that his administration would focus on the provision of incentives to motivate teachers and reward their hard work.
“Government will collaborate with the various teachers’ associations to facilitate an affordable housing scheme for teachers. Teachers will be afforded the opportunity to upgrade their qualifications to make the teaching profession a proud choice,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo pledged to improve the quality of education at the various levels as part of measures to transform the economy.
He said the government would partner the private sector to set up strategic industries to help create jobs for the youth.
The industries, he noted, included an iron and steel industry in Tamale to manufacture machine parts and equipments, an integrated aluminum industry, petrochemical industry from oil and gas deposit from the oil fields, and a vehicle assembling plant.
“Sixty years after independence, the progress we have made has been slow. It is time to take a bold move that will enable us to make rapid progress to transform our economy and the lives of Ghanaians,” he said.
The President said the aim to transform the country into a modern and productive player in the global market required a productive workforce and the need to get educational policies right.
He, therefore, reiterated the commitment to implement the right policies to produce the required workforce needed to turn the economic fortunes of the country around.
The head master of Okuapeman SHS, in an address, appealed to the government to help renovate the school’s science resource centre, construct a dormitory each for the boys and girls, as well as classroom blocks for the school.
From Yaw Kyei, Akwapim