“We will continue to fund and improve the programmes. 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,” he stressed.
This is against media reports that the Government was considering a review of the programmes due to the economic challenges facing the country.
Presenting this year’s Mid-Year Review Budget Statement in Parliament, Mr Ofori-Atta shrugged off such suggestions and said the Government had invested GH¢ 5.3 billion to enable 1,261,495 Ghanaian children access to secondary education under the Free SHS programme at the end of 2021 to improve access to education.
He said out of the 571,892 registered Junior High School candidates, 555,353, representing 97.1 per cent, were placed into SHS in 2022.
The Minister said the Government was aware of the reported challenges in accessing and transporting food for students in SHS and was working hard to address the challenges.
“In response, we have engaged stakeholders and devised a programme that ensures that schools will not be disrupted and our students are well-fed,” the Ministers added.
He announced that the Government had recently completed 17 additional projects, including classroom blocks, dormitories, staff bungalows and libraries as part of infrastructural expansion in SHSs, to deal with the increases in student numbers.
On the school feeding programme, the Minister said since January 2022, 3,620,468 pupils in 10,832 public basic schools had been fed with one hot meal every school going day in the first half of the year under the programme.
The programme, he stated, provided employment for 32,496 caterers, stressing that the programme remained an important initiative that kept the children in school and provided jobs and incomes for several people, especially women.