Govt spends over GH¢534.7m on Free SHS…as at May this year

Dr Mathew-Opoku-Prempeh, Minister of Education

Dr Mathew-Opoku-Prempeh, Minister of Education

The government has so far spent GH¢534,670,185.55 on the implementation of its flagship educational policy, the Free Senior High School (SHS).

According to Vincent Ekow Assafuah, Head of Public Relations Department, Ministry of Education, the total sum includes payments made from the inception of the programme in September 2017 to May 23 this year.

Detailing the summary of the expenses to Ghanaian Times in an interview in Accra yesterday, he said buffer and other payments recorded the highest expenses, totalling GH¢151,762,918.99 and GH¢147,735,945.13 respectively.

Core textbooks and teacher’s notebooks, he said, accounted for GH¢85,156,982.72 and GH¢5,881,806.00 respectively while GH¢5,561,802.90 was spent on exercise books.

Mr Assafuah stated that government further used GH¢10,057,510.00 on Supplementary Readers and spent a total of GH¢9,632,846.55 on Physical Education (PE) kits for the students.

Uniforms, cloths and house dresses for the students, he said took GH¢48,864,908.36 of the budgetary allocation while GH¢5,015,464.90 accounted for meals.

A total of GH¢65 million was also spent on procuring new furniture and improving the conditions of existing ones, he added.

The Free SHS policy was the major campaign promise of then opposition party, New Patriotic Party (NPP) flagbearer, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

On assumption of the presidential seat last year, President Nana Akufo-Addo in a speech at the Okuapemman SHS in Akropong-Akuapem, spelt out what was entailed in the Free SHS policy.

“By free SHS, we mean that in addition to tuition, which is already free, there will be no admission fees, no library fees, no science centre fees, no computer laboratory fees, no examination fees, no utility fees; there will be free textbooks, free boarding and free meals and day students will get a meal at school for free,” he explained.

He added that “Free SHS will also cover agricultural, vocational and technical institutions at the high school level. I also want to state clearly again that we have a well-thought-out plan that involves the building of new public senior high schools and a cluster of public senior high schools.”
The Minister of Education, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, gave an assurance that the government would implement the policy with effect from September this year, in spite of the misgivings being expressed in certain quarters.

He said the government was going to take into consideration concerns over the economy and the time of implementation of the policy and pledged that the roll-out of the policy would not compromise quality and access.

The roll-out of the programme, despite some challenges, has drawn several applauses for government from parents, religious leaders, development organisations and countries as well as regional countries which aim to pursue similar trends.
By Claude Nyarko Adams


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