Free SHS not truly free? Ghanaians have been wondering, considering the various fees they are being made to pay for their first year senior high school children/wards.
According to President Nana Akufo-Addo, the Free SHS Education Policy simply means – “no tuition fees, no admission fees, no boarding fees, no library fees, no laboratory fees, no examination fees, no utility fees and all the other charges”.
But heads of various senior high schools across the country will not have this rule stand since the commencement of the program on Monday, as they have reportedly been extorting illegal fees baptized with different categories of names from parents and guardians who report at their schools to register their kids and wards.
Speaking to Joy News, the Volta Regional Minister, Archibald Yao Letsa disclosed that parents/guardians are made to pay Ghc250 hostel fee at Keta SHS. According to him, he went there himself and instructed them to stop but when he left, the school authorities turned the new students away, saying that the hostels are filled up.
Mr. Letsa bemoaned the fact that some selfish and money-hungry persons who are not happy that the free SHS policy is blocking their various means of foul income are still bent on creating avenues through which they would continue their acts of extortion.
To confirm the Volta Region Minister’s claims, some parents complained that they have been forced to pay fees ranging from Ghc10 to Ghc30 before they are able to register their children.
One of the parents who spoke to a Joy News correspondent in the Ashanti region lamented that in addition to the illegal fees, they are made to buy items whose total cost surpass the amount of money they would have paid in the absence of the Free SHS program.
But some of the school heads claim they cannot afford some needed items such as students’ files, seats, etc., hence the fees. At the Bongo Senior High School in the Upper East region, first year students were made to pay Ghc75 comprising GHc15 PTA levy and GHc60 for a mosquito net, broom, hoe and cutlass.
A similar situation is also reported to be prevailing in the Brong-Ahafo region, with school heads in the region claiming that the fees they are collecting were not covered by government’s free senior high school education programme.
But contrary to the above claims, all fees approved by the Ghana Education Service (GES) for first year senior school students, except PTA levies, have been absorbed by the free education scheme.
Ghanaians are just hoping that this extortion is checked before it graduates into something more unbearable than having to pay school fees after all.