The Minority in Parliament has described the Government’s Free SHS policy as ‘a hoax’, saying it is contrary to the promise they made to Ghanaians that the programme would be rolled out to cover all students in SHS.
According to them, the current EMIS data reveals that there are 285,450 students enrolled in second year; while 279,954 students are enrolled in third year.
“This simply means a total of 565,404 students have not been captured,” it states.
Mr Haruna Iddrisu, the Minority Leader, speaking at a press conference in Accra, stated that the continuous claim by President Akufo-Addo and the NPP that they had fulfilled their Universal Free SHS for All was unacceptable.
“Free SHS – The NPP will redefine Basic Education to include Senior High School (SHS), covering vocational, agricultural and technical schools, and make it available for free on a universal basis to all Ghanaians”.
He said the inability of the NPP to roll out Free SHS to cover those in second and third years had vindicated those who said Akufo-Addo’s Free SHS promise was a hoax.
Mr Iddrisu also stated that Ghanaians had been witnesses to the heavy dose of propaganda that had heralded the NPP’s implementation of their version of Progressively Free SHS.
He said while these entire Jamborees were going on, the real work, which ought to engage the attention of the NPP Government was ignored.
He said the NPP Government had no Free SHS Policy or blue print, neither was there an implementation manual.
He said the absence of these crucial documents had not only exposed the Government but had left key stakeholders such as the Conference of Heads of Assisted Secondary Schools (CHASS), Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), National Associat6ion of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) and the Coalition of Concerned Teachers (CCT) bewildered as they struggled to implement the Policy.
“We continue to hear loud cries of frustration from key partners in the education sector; CHASS at its conference last week had to publicly demand an implementation manual or “Bible” as they put it warning of the consequences of the lack of such as simple but vital document,” he said.
“This is a basic demand that should not have had to be made.”
Mr Iddrisu also stated that discoveries by the Minority showed that the NPP Government’s Free SHS policy was not sustainable.
He said the NPP Government had refused to adjust this year’s GES approved fees as had been the tradition every year.
“This tradition in fixing fees annually factors inflation and ensures that quality is not compromised,” he stated.
He said Government used last academic year’s GES approved fees of GH¢1,022.20 for boarders and GH¢560 for day students so that it could beat down the actual cost of the Free SHS.
He said trend analysis the Minority had conducted over the last five years revealed that this year’s approved fees should not have been less than GH¢1, 320 for boarders and GH¢715 for day students.
Mr Iddrisu said only 85 per cent of SHS students would accept their placements and turn up for school.
This, he said, meant that, the NPP Government had made provision in its budget for only 362,781 SHS students entering first year.
Therefore, per the current placement figures, the Government had made no arrangement for 62,711 students.
He, therefore, urged the President and his Government not to destroy secondary education in Ghana as the early signs were most troubling.
The President would officially launch the Policy at the West African Senior High School, on Tuesday, September 12, at Adentan in the Greater Accra Region.
The Free SHS programme is a long-held campaign promise by the New Patriotic Party that seeks to increase enrolment in schools by removing the burden of all major mandatory fees from parents and making it a responsibility of the Government.
The relief would cover tuition fees, admission fees, library fees, science centre fees, computer laboratory fees, examination fees, and utility fees.
Additionally, there would be free textbooks, free boarding and free meals and day students would get a meal at school for free.
The policy would also cover agricultural, vocational and technical institutions at the high school level.
An estimated 1.6 million eligible students between the ages of 15 and 17 years across the country, are expected to benefit from the Policy.