More than 1.6 million Ghanaian students so far have benefitted from the government’s flagship programme, the Free Senior High School programme since its inception in 2017, Mr. John Ntim Fordjour, Deputy Minister of Education has said.
He said the average enrollment in Senior High Schools (SHS) had also increased from about 800, 000 in 2015 to 1.2 million in 2021 with the double-track system playing a major role in this regard.
Addressing the 59th Annual Conference of Heads of Assisted Secondary Schools (CHASS) in Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region, the Deputy Minister said the government had invested massively in the policy and it would contribute to improving upon the country’s human capital index and contribute towards the attainment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
The event was held on the theme, ‘Discipline and child rights in our Senior High Schools; the fate of the school head’ and it brought together heads of secondary schools across the country.
The Free Senior High School policy was started by the current government to provide every single Ghanaian child easy access to SHS education, by absorbing all costs while ensuring quality intuition.
But due to the infrastructure deficit in most of the schools coupled with the high number of students gaining admission into the secondary schools, the government in 2018, introduced a Double Track system to deal with overcrowding while it worked to improve upon the infrastructure deficit.
Mr. Fordjour explained that the move had been a success and added that Ghana had recorded significant improvement in the number of students scoring ‘As’ in all subjects in the West Africa Senior School Certificate Examination.
“The 2020 WASSCE report indicates that 411 out of 465 students representing 83 per cent of candidates in all West Africa who scored ‘As’ in all eight subjects were candidates from free SHS in Ghana and for the first time in many years, over 50 per cent of our candidates who sat WASSCE scored A1 to C6 in all core subjects.
He said the government was determined to eliminate the Double Track system and revert to the single track as scheduled and as such 1,135 different infrastructure projects in various schools across the country had been initiated and 657 of them have been completed so far.
He added that out of the 3,897 school infrastructure including the classroom blocks, dormitories, and staff accommodation among others the current government inherited in 2017, 1001 of them had also been completed.
The Deputy Minister noted that there was enough infrastructure and the government was ready to admit all the 571,894 students currently writing the Basic Education Certificate Examination into the SHS to enjoy the free SHS programme, adding “we have enough space to receive them into any school of their choice and cost will no longer be a barrier.”
Alhaji Yakubu Abubakar, the National President of CHASS on behalf of the Conference, appealed to the Government to always ensure timely release of the funds and food to ensure the effective implementation of the free SHS.
He also called for adequate provision of furniture for the schools.