The Free Senior High School (SHS) and Technical, Vocational, Education and Training (TVET) Education programmes are not under review, the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, has clarified.
Although he acknowledged that the programme was currently facing some challenges, he said the government was taking the necessary steps to resolve the problems to enable the programme ran smoothly.
“We shall not compromise on President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s commitment to giving all our children the opportunity to be educated from kindergarten to university, without the ability to pay being a hindrance.
“Free Secondary and TVET education are not under review. We will continue to fund them and we will continue to improve them,” he said yesterday when he delivered the 2022 Mid-Year budget Review in parliament.
Mr Ofori-Atta’s comment comes days after media reports suggested that the programme was under review– a claim the Ministry of Education and Ghana Education Service have since refuted.
There have also been calls for the government to take another look at the programme and allow parents to take up certain responsibilities due to widespread food shortage of food at SHSs.
In an apparent response, the Finance Minister told parliament that the government had placed human capital development at the core of the national transformation efforts since it assumed power in 2017.
“We have invested GH¢5.3 billion to enable 1,261,495 Ghanaian children access secondary education under the Free SHS programme at the end of 2021 to improve access to education.
“Out of the 571,892 registered Junior High School candidates, 555,353, representing 97.1 percent, were placed into SHS this year. This is significant,” he stated.
Mr Ofori-Atta said the government was aware of reported challenges in accessing and transporting food for students in schools and that problem and related ones were being fixed.
“We have engaged stakeholders and devised a programme that ensures that schools will not be disrupted and our students are well-fed,” he assured the country.
Aside from that the Finance Minister, said the government had also recently completed 17 additional projects including classroom blocks, dormitories, staff bungalows and libraries as part of infrastructural expansion in SHS to deal with the record increases in student numbers.
On the Ghana School Feeding Programme, Mr Ofori-Atta since January, 3,620,468 pupils in 10,832 public basic schools had been fed with one hot meal every school going day in the first half of the year under the Ghana School Feeding Programme.
“The programme provides employment for 32,496 caterers. School feeding programme remains an important initiative that keeps our children in school and provides jobs and incomes for several people, mainly women.
We have invested in the future of our children through the free SHS where 5.3 billion has been spent to enable 1,261,495 students have access to secondary education,” he said.
BY JONATHAN DONKOR & ANITA ANKRAH