In September 2017, the Akufo-Addo administration began implementing its flagship education policy, Free Senior High School.
The policy has been praised for increasing access to senior high schools, particularly among Ghana’s most vulnerable citizens.
However, it has been criticized for flaws such as congestion, forcing the Ministry of Education to implement the double-track system.
Although the policy increased enrolment in senior high schools, critics argue that it has increased the cost of senior high school education for parents by forcing them to pay for extra classes for their children. These students took at least three months off.
Recently, the cost of feeding students has become a topic of public debate. Food shortages have become widespread in senior high schools, with principals threatening to close their schools.
On July 29, 2021, Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta presented the 2021 mid-year budget, stating that “over the past five years, a total amount of GH7.62 billion has been spent to implement the Free SHS Programme.”
This figure included all students who benefited from the program between 2017 and 2020.
To the surprise of analysts, Mr. Ofori-Atta announced in parliament on July 25, 2022, that the government had invested GH 5.3 billion to enable 1,261,495 children to access free education under the Free Senior High School Programme by the end of 2021.
The announcement made in front of lawmakers drew the attention of civil society.
Mr. Kofi Asare, Executive Director of Africa Education Watch, observed on Facebook that as the number of beneficiaries increased, the expenditure on free SHS decreased.
“Has the total amount spent by the government on free SHS since 2017 decreased as the number of beneficiaries increased?” “Mercy, Lord,” he penned.
Ideally, spending for 2022 should have increased as the number of students increased. However, it was even lower than the figures for 2021. The figure for 2022 was GH 2.32 billion less than the figure for 2021.
Education Minister, Dr. Yaw Adutwum, mentioned a different amount a month before Mr. Ofori-Atta’s presentation to Parliament when he was invited to the Meet the Press Briefing at the Ministry of Information on June 7, 2021.
Dr. Yaw Adutwum stated that the Free SHS program had cost a total of GHC 7.7 billion.
“In total, we’ve spent GHC 7,703,783,456 to date, according to data provided to me by my Chief Director, whom I trust,” he said.
This figure is also GH800,000 higher than the figure presented by the finance minister a month later, in July 2021.
Fact-Check Ghana attempted to speak with the Coordinator of the Free SHS Secretariat, Mr. William Darkwa, but proved futile.
Source: Ghana education service
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