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Progressively Free SHS Programme: 120,000 Boarders To Benefit
 
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31-Aug-2016  
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About 120,000 boarding students in senior high schools (SHSs) will benefit from the government’s progressively free SHS programme starting from the 2016/2017 academic year.
 
The beneficiaries will be those of parents or families that cannot pay the school fees of their children and wards.

They include students from poor homes, those whose parents are HIV patients and disabled, as well as those from families benefiting from the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme.

The Deputy Minister of Education in charge of Pre-tertiary, Mr Alex Kyeremeh, in an interview, said the package would also cover students from rural and deprived areas, as well as orphans.

He said the figure was in addition to the 320,000 day SHS students who started enjoying the package last year.

The deputy minister explained that the package would cover every item on the fee list except parent-teacher association (PTA) levies and others agreed on between parents and school administrations to help the children.

Social intervention

He said the decision to extend the free SHS policy to those categories of students was part of the government’s social intervention programme to ensure that lack of funds would not be an excuse for a student to be out of school.

“It is a social intervention. We want to target those who can’t pay, so that the state will have to pay for them in order not to become a burden on society in future,” he said.

Mr Kyeremeh announced that the modalities for qualification would be published for the attention of the public.

He said the success of the programme would warrant an increase in the amount to be spent for more children in that category to benefit from it because “we are enjoined by Education for All to give equity in terms of education at all levels”.

He said Ghana was enjoined by international conventions to take care of such children, adding that it was unacceptable that because a child was from a poor family, he or she had to drop out of school.

“It is the duty of the state to take care of children, no matter where these children are coming from, because they are going to build the better Ghana for us,” he said. 

Funding

Asked how the government would fund the policy, he said the extension of the package to cover boarding students was factored into the 2016 budget and, therefore, funding should not be an issue.

Although the minister could not immediately say how much would be involved, he said, “We have budgeted for it and I don’t want to give figures. The fees for this year will take care of all of them if actually we are able to take up all of them.”

 Approved fees for 2016/17 academic year

Touching on school fees for the 2016/17 academic year, Mr Kyeremeh asked the public to ignore a statement circulating on social media that the government had released approved fees for the new academic year.

He said what was on social media was that of last year and, therefore, urged the public to discard that information, explaining that the director-general of the GES would release this year’s approved fees for the attention of the public.

“What we do as a ministry is that every year the GES Council invites all major key players to come up with their suggestions and a sub-committee is formed which deliberates on the submissions.

“After the sub-committee has done due diligence to the submissions, it will present its report to the Minister of Education, who will also put together a committee to review the council’s findings,” he said.

Mr Kyeremeh identified some of the stakeholders as the Conference of Heads of Assisted Secondary Schools (CHASS), PTAs and others.

He said the ministry did not arbitrarily increase school fees, adding: “We don’t look at figures and just say, ‘let’s increase this by this amount or that’.”
 
 
 
Source: Daily Graphic
 
 

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