Government has so far expended GH₵556million on implementation of the Free Senior High School Programme for the 2017/2018 academic year admissions, Deputy Minister for Education Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum has said.
Appearing before Parliament to answer questions on the amount spent so far on implementing the Free SHS, Dr. Adutwum stated: “The amount expended so far is GH₵556,998,740 for the first year”.
He also explained that a total amount of GH₵584m has been released to the ministry so far for the programme’s implementation.
For the second academic year, he indicated that government is making efforts to streamline the system going into the second year.
“We are looking very good; the second year, for the record, is going to be free; so, students who are in the first year, when they go to second year it is going to be free. When they go through the third year, it is going to be free.
“This September we are going to have two streams of students [first year and second year] in the Free SHS system, and it is going very well. We are making efforts to ensure that we accommodate all the students who are coming.”
A Minority Member of Parliament for Mion, Mohammed Abdul-Aziz, had indicated on the floor of the House that government spends GH₵400m every term – which Dr. Adutwum moved quickly to debunk.
“My Hon. colleague was a little bit confused; it is not GH₵400m every term because first year, you have to buy textbooks, school uniforms, admission fees, because these were fees that were being charged the students and the president absorbed everything; so, the first term happens to be GH₵400m and by the second term it drops to GH₵209m; the third term it drops to GH₵209m.
“So, if you combine the second and third term, it is almost the same as the first term. It will give you about GH₵800m for the whole year; and since this year’s budget captures both the first and part of the second-year stream, you realise that the amount is higher,” he explained.
Government budgeted GH₵1.3m for the Free SHS programme in the 2018 Budget to cater for the second and third terms, and incoming first-year students.
The programme’s implementation commenced with the enrollment of about 361,771 students as part of the 2017/2018 academic year admissions.
On challenges facing the programme, Dr. Osei maintained that they have been addressed to a considerable extent because there will always be problems – adding that government has distributed 90,000 desks across the country, as well as a number of dining-hall tables and teachers’ desks.
He also said government allocated GH₵60m emergency funding to supply furniture for schools so that stress and pressure can be eased from them.
Dining halls and classroom blocks are also being built across the country to lessen the burden on schools as far as the free SHS infrastructural improvement system is concerned, he stated.