Heritage Fund to be amended to finance free SHS—Osafo Maafo

February 15, 2017
Source: Obed Attah Yeboah/thebftonline.com/Ghana
Heritage Fund to be amended to finance free SHS—Osafo Maafo

The Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo Maafo, has said that government will initiate the process of amending the Petroleum Revenue Management Act (PRMA) to allow government tap into the Ghana Heritage Fund to finance its free Senior High School policy.

President Akufo-Addo announced over the weekend that beginning September this year, students who will be admitted into the Senior High Schools across the country will not be allowed to pay any fees, including boarding fees.

However, questions have been raised by some policy analysts about its sustainability, especially the fact that managers of the economy have indicated that the country is financially handicapped.

Commenting on this at a Graphic Business/ Stanbic Bank Breakfast Meeting held in Accra, Mr. Osafo Maafo said government will address finance the programme through the country’s Heritage Fund.

“We are going to look at the Heritage Fund and heritage is about the future of our country. We want to introduce free education in the second cycle institutions and it is likely to be funded through the Petroleum Act.

That being the case we are going to make amendment and say that ‘x’ percent will be used to support second cycle education…So whatever it is important to support the youth in the future, we will make certain relevant amendment to make sure that the economy benefit from the Petroleum Act,” Mr. Osafo Maafo said.

The latest semi-annual report on the Ghana Petroleum Funds from the Bank of Ghana shows that the Heritage Fund currently has a balance of US$276,962,291, showing a -2.99 percent interest decline compared to what was recorded in first half of 2016.

About 1.6 million eligible students between the ages of 15-17 years across the country, are expected to benefit from government’s free Senior High School policy.

Analysis by the B&FT has shown that the Free SHS policy, which will also cover agricultural, vocational and technical institutions at the high school level, is estimated to cost GH¢3.6 billion annualy.

The country currently has in place the Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) that covers primary and junior high education. However, it is estimated that close to 50 percent of JHS graduates who pass, do not have access into SHS largely due to lack of funds and accessibility.

Currently, there are about 432,780 SHS students in the country per the 2015/16 academic year data, and government spends GH¢2,312 on each student per year.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has indicated that he still stands by his campaign promise of redefining basic education to incorporate kindergarten to SHS and absorbing the cost of same.

I want every Ghanaian child to attend secondary school, not just for what they study in books but for the life experiences that they will gain. I want each of them to look in the mirror in the morning every morning and know that they can achieve anything they dream of when they complete their studies,” President Akufo-Addo said.