Free SHS, TVET not under review – Finance Minister

Ofori-Atta bondholders

Following recommendations from some individuals and Civil Society Organisation (CSO) to government to review the Free Senior High School programme, Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta has indicated that government has no plans of reviewing the policy, as well as the Technical and Vocational Education and Training.

According to the finance minister, there has been a huge investment into the programme to seek quality education and improve access to education, hence, reviewing it will be a compromise.

“We have placed human capital development at the core of our national transformation efforts since 2017. We have invested GH¢5.3billion to enable 1,261,495 Ghanaian children access to secondary education under the Free SHS programme at the end 2021 to improve access to education.

“We shall not compromise on President 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,” he said this during the mid-year Budget Review.

Out of the 571,892 registered Junior High School candidates, 555,353, representing 97.1 percent, were placed into SHS this year; this, according to the finance minister, is very significant.

Touching on the current issues concerning food shortage in the various schools, the minister admitted that there have been difficulties in getting foodstuffs to the various schools, but quick steps have been taken to put an end to it.

“We are aware of reported challenges in accessing and transporting food for students in SHS and we are fixing it. In response, we have engaged stakeholders and devised a programme that ensures that schools will not be disrupted and our students are well-fed,” he stated.

The minister added that in order to deal with the record increases in student numbers, government has also recently completed 17 additional projects including classroom blocks, dormitories, staff bungalows and libraries as part of infrastructural expansion in Senior High Schools.

School Feeding Programme

Speaking on the School Feeding Programme, the finance minister said: “We will continue to fund them, and we will continue to improve the Ghana School Feeding Programme. Thanks to taxpayers, since January, 3,620,468 pupils in 10,832 public basic schools have 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, according to the finance minister, remains an advantageous programme not just for the students, but others as well as it 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,” he noted.

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