Stop erratic financial releases and food supplies to SHSs

The Government has, since December 2021, released a total of GH¢154.9 million to Senior High Schools (SHSs) across the country towards their smooth running. 

Out of the amount released through the Ministry of Education (MoE), GH¢94.4 million went to the National Buffer Stock Company (NAFCO) for the procurement of essential food stock for the SHSs.

The remaining GH¢60.5 was paid to the SHSs as intervention grants.

A statement from the ministry said, “These releases come in handy to strategically ensure that schools are provided with the right resources to ensure their smooth operations for effective teaching and learning to take place.”

No doubt, such releases are very important because without them, heads of the schools face untold hardship doing their work.

Therefore, the government deserves commendation for releasing them,

 However, close observation of happenings on the education system landscape of the country shows that such releases are not timely enough as they almost always follow some agitations by heads of schools or even students.

The last time such a release was made was on July 9 last year, over six months now, which means if the current semester system is anything to go by, then the current release or probably a percentage of it should have come last semester for the then final-year students, who are now entering the university, to benefit from it.

Our stand is based on the fact that at a meeting on December 24, 2021, the Conference of Heads of Assisted Secondary Schools (CHASS) threatened to postpone the 2022 SHS reopening date over unpaid arrears of such releases.

The Conference gave the Ghana Education Service (GES) up to  December 31, 2021, to payall monies owed the SHSs, including those due teachers,and make good all outstanding food supplies to the schools, which include the first Semester Form 1 and 2 recurrent (balance) for 2021.

Happily, the double-track SHSs reopened on the stipulated date of January 5, with the single ones yet to reopen but it is worthy of note that such threats are not new as evidence shows that they have become appendages of the system, especially with the introduction of the SHS.

For instance, in January 2014, all the 83 SHSs in the three northern regions of the country partially reopened for only final-year students, explaining that their inability to accept all their students was as a result of the non-payment of two terms’ feeding subsidies by the government.

The erratic payments of monies and supplies of food items to the SHSs and attendant challenges undermine effective teaching and learning.

The heads of the schools in time past would buy food and other items on credit and pay when the releases came in but they have been stopped from that practice, so you can imagine the hardship they go through when the releases and food supplies delay.

In releasing the current financial support, the MoEassured parents and other stakeholders that the Free SHS system was not under stress and that the government would continue to provide the needed resources to keep it running for the benefit of all

It also assured all SHS heads that the government would continue to provide them with the needed resources to enhance teaching and learning.

The Ghanaian Times wants to believe that with these assurances, the perennial erratic releases and food supplies would be things of the past.

To that end, the government, through the MoE and GES, should diagnose the situation and cure all the malady in there because it does not augur well for improvement of educational standards in the country.

In fact, standards are falling and so there is the urgent need to avoid anything negative that has the potency to aggravate the situation.

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