Gov’t Promises Free SHS In 2015

Prof.Jane Naana OpokuGovernment is putting a number of measures in place to make Senior High School (SHS) education free next year.

The first batches of 365,000 students are expected to benefit from free SHS education under a pilot programme next academic year at a cost of GH42.7 million.

The Minister of Education, Professor Naana Jane Opoku Agyemang and the deputy Minister of Education in-charge of Tertiary Sector, Okudzeto Ablakwa, announced this in Parliament yesterday when they took turns to contribute to the debate on the 2015 budget statement and economic policy of the government.

Prof Opoku-Agyemang said the government was in the process of constructing a number of schools and was renovating others to improve access to and the quality of free education.

President John Dramani Mahama, in his state-of-the-nation address last February, announced that SHS education would be made progressively free next year in line with Article 25 of the constitution.

Article 25 (1b) of the constitution indicate that “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.”

Prof Opoku Agyemang, therefore, gave the assurance that the government would make SHS education progressively free from next year in accordance with the constitution.

Touching on basic education, she said the ministry contracted the University of Cape Coast to conduct a study on why private basic schools were performing better than public schools and came out with the conclusion that private schools performed better due to teachers’ presence in class.

Prof. Opoku-Agyeman said the ministry would embark on a programme to improve teachers’ presence in class to enable student’s in public schools, compete with their counterparts in private schools.

Also contributing to the debate, the Minority Spokesperson on Education, Prof Dominic Fobih, said access to SHS education was still a challenge in the country, and indicated that about 44 per cent of students who complete basic schools did not get access to high school education.

He said the government, in its previous budget, promised to construct 10 colleges of education, but could not construct any, adding that capitation grant was not functioning well, while teachers’ pension fund was in arrears.

The Member of Parliament for Asene, Akroso, Manso, Yaw Owusu-Boateng, lamented at the high cost of education, especially tertiary education, and urged the government to address the problem.

On basic education, he said the education ministry spent about 44 per cent of its annual budgets on basic education, despite this, public schools continued to perform poorer than private schools.

“The private sector has taken over basic education and are charging exorbitant fees because our public schools are not performing well. I am not sure any MP here will take his or her child to public school,” he said.

Despite the poor performance of basic schools, he said the government, in its 2015 budget, did not outline proper measures to improve basic education in the country.

By Yaw Kyei

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