The main character leading the most popular Free SHS, Hon. Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, the Minister in Charge of Education and Member of Parliament for Manhyia South Constituency in the Ashanti Region of Ghana has put to rest allegations leveled by some vociferous Ghanaians claiming that Government has doubled fees paid by continuing students in Senior High Schools to run or finance the Free SHS Program.
He denied the frivolous claim vehemently when responding to some questions fired at him after his fantastic exposure on the roll out of the Free Senior High School Program at the meet the press encounter organized by the Education Ministry in conjunction with Ghana Education Service and other stakeholders held under the auspices of the Ministry of information in Accra Yesterday Thursday 30th November, 2017.
The much touted Free SHS which has received a lot of commendation by well meaning individuals in Ghana and across the globe was greeted with some mixed reactions following some allegations revealed by Mr. Iddi Muayuden who claimed to be a student activists and a friend to the Free Senior High School. According to him, one of the vociferous criticisms that have greeted the Free SHS is that many hold the view that Government has doubled the fees of continuing students so as to use to fund first years.
This criticism which seems to be making the news on the airwaves on most Radio and Television stations was quashed by the Minister of Education in his attempt to answer questions filed by media houses in the just ended meet the press encounter. It is not logic for anybody to say that Government is using fees paid by continuing students to fund the first years, he said. He further stated that Government pays GH₵30.00 as subsidy for continuing students compared to the GH₵1,004 and GH₵648.00 paid to schools as subsidy for boarders and day students respectively under the Free SHS Program; and that how could that meager amount of GH₵30.00 be used to run the first years, he quizzed.
To further water down his explanation, he said Government has supplied perishable food through Buffer stock, 2 uniforms, house dresses, cloths, P.E kits, 9 exercise books and 4 notebooks to each first year student under the Free SHS Program without a fee paid. All these items mentioned were borne by Government as part of the cost for the roll out of the Free SHS Program. He quizzed to find out in sincerity how many people could own up and say Government is using fees paid by continuing students to run the Free SHS Program.
His explanation is in line with the fact that Government before the commencement of the 2017/18 academic year paid 20% ahead as part of the cost to roll out the Free SHS for 358, 205 first years placed in 674 public SHSs. The 20% paid was paid into the accounts of the various schools.
The Education Minister was quick to state on record that no head of Public Senior High School can demand any amount aside what has been decided on by the GES council. He added that, Heads of schools are not governors of their own; therefore they cannot determine what should be charged.
He finally called on all to treat the claim that second and third fees have been doubled to provide fund to run the Free SHS with a pinch of grain.
Story by Teacher Danquah/hardpointonline.com