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Free SHS: Gov’t to set up voluntary education support fund

Government is in the process of setting up a fund to receive voluntary contributions from individuals to support the implementation of its flagship Free Senior High School programme, and the education sector as a whole.

This was disclosed by the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, when he presented the 2018 budget statement to Parliament on Wednesday.

Ghana’s education sector has been saddled with inadequate infrastructure and teaching materials, low pay for teachers particularly at the basic and SHS level.

The implementation of the free Senior High School (SHS) policy recently suffered some setbacks as some schools are faced with the challenge of inadequate infrastructure.

The headteachers of some Senior High Schools were interdicted, while one of them at the La Presbyterian Senior High School in Accra was transferred for asking parents of new students under the Free SHS policy to pay for the purchase of plastic chairs to enable their wards to sit on them in class.

There are a number of schools in the country that are either having classes under trees or are in dilapidated structures.

Presenting the 2018 budget statement, the Finance Minister said the setting up of the Fund has become necessary following proposals made to government.

“Mr. Speaker, with the successful launch of the free SHS programme, government received proposals from the public, several of which encourage the establishment of a fund to receive voluntary contributions to support education. Thankfully, the GETFund Law allows for the setting up of other education-related funds. In 2018, the Ministry will work with GET FUND to set up this education fund to enable Ghanaians make voluntary contributions to support education,” he added.

Government is expected to spend close to GHc1 billion on the beneficiaries of the free SHS programme for this academic year.

The figure is expected to shoot up in subsequent years.

Government had prior to reopening of the 2017/2018 academic year of second cycle institutions in the country, released half of the GHc 486 million earmarked for the programme for the first term.

By: Godwin Akweiteh Allotey/citifmonline.com/Ghana