In fulfilment of their earlier promise, government says it has released 50 percent of the total Free SHS budget for September to December schooling. The released amount which is Ghc240 million is half of the Ghc486 million meant to take care of first term of the 2017/2018 academic year.
Deputy Minister of Finance, Abena Osei-Asare, made the disclosure while speaking to the press yesterday, Thursday, September 7.
“For the GHc486 million, it is ready and we have issued the first part, that is the 50 percent,” she disclosed.
The Deputy Minister indicated that her ministry is only waiting for the Ministry of Education to send them the exact number of students enrolled in each government Senior High School across the country, to enable them calculate and disburse the funds to their various accounts.
According to Madam Osei-Asare, all Senior High Schools are expected to receive their individual share of the money before the end of today [Friday, Sept. 8], ahead of school resumption on Monday, September 12.
“All we are waiting for is the Ministry of Education to tell us the various numbers that have been placed in each school and based on that, we will go ahead and transfer the monies. By Friday, the money should hit all the accounts we have been provided with.”
Speaking further, Madam Asare urged all the banks involved in the transaction “to expedite action as soon as the funds hit their accounts and draw the attention of the respective schools that the funds have hit their accounts.”
She also assured that a reliable source of revenue is already in place to sustain the program.
Recall that government had earlier promised to ensure that the free SHS funds are made availble to schools two weeks before resumption. Their failure to meet this stipulated deadline had raised concerns among the Conference of Heads of Assisted Secondary Schools (CHASS).
However, government had calmed their fears through the Deputy Minister in-charge of pre-tertiary education, Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum who assured them that there is no cause for alarms as the funds must get to them before the new session begins.
Meanwhile, government has instructed all public senior high schools in the country to remain open over this weekend to enable lately placed students to complete their registration to enable them start schooling on Monday.
Available figures indicate that a total of 427,000 successful BECE candidates are qualified to benefit from the Free SHS program this academic year. However, the Education Ministry have been encountering some challenges in having all of them placed in senior high schools of their choices.
The development left about 156,000 prospective first year senior high school students without placements, with their parents and guardians worried over how to solve the problem.
However, government intervened in the situation by giving the unplaced students a second opportunity to reapply and make new SHS choices. And according to Deputy Minister Adutwum, 110,000 out of the unplaced students have successfully reapplied.
Free SHS ‘Bible’
The 55th Annual Conference of Heads of Assisted Secondary Schools (CHASS) ongoing in Ho, Volta region is requesting that government provides Heads of Schools with a ‘Free SHS Bible’. The ‘Bible’ they said will contain clear-cut written regulations that will guide Heads of Schools in the implementation of the Free SHS policy.
Responding to this request, Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum indicated that the Ghana Education Service (GES) has distributed some manuals meant to guide concerned person in carrying of the program.
He was however quick to note that since CHASS is asking for something “more comprehensive and detailed to guide them,” the Service will make provision for that to enable them religiously implement the policy.