GNAT Welcomes Free SHS

It is possible for any prudent government to implement a Free Senior High School (SHS) programme in the country, General Secretary of the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), David Ofori Acheampong, has said.

According to him, if any government prioritises education and does its homework well and gets the figures right with regard to the cost of implementing such a policy, it should be workable.

His comments follow concerns expressed by some stakeholders, including retired diplomat K. B. Asante, that the Free SHS programme proposed by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is not sustainable.

President Akufo-Addo, who was the Special Guest of Honour at the 60th anniversary celebration of Okuapeman Senior High School, indicated in his speech on Saturday February 11, 2017 that “[his] government will fund the cost of public senior high schools for all those who qualify for entry from September this year.”

He explained: “By free SHS, we mean that in addition to tuition which is already free, there will be no admission fees, no library fees, no science centre fees, no computer lab fees, no examination fees, no utility fees; there will be free textbooks, free boarding and free meals, and day students will get a meal at school for free.”

The president further indicated that the policy would also cover agricultural, vocational, and technical institutions at the high school level.

Speaking in an interview on Accra 100.5 FM yesterday, Mr. Acheampong said: “If you are a government and you spend prudently and do proper research, you should be able to do it, it is possible.”

“Education should be a national developmental agenda so that irrespective of the government in place, that agenda would be followed.  And, so, there should be broader consultation with all major stakeholders on the matter.”

Statesman K. B. Asante had earlier said on the same show that although the idea was commendable, he doubted the government can sustain it.

“We voted for a government and we think it will competently administer the country.  If the money [were] not there, I don’t think the government would have announced it, so let us assume that the money will be there.”

“From the little I know about financing, I do not think we can sustain it, but I am not in charge and I don’t have all the facts and figures, so let’s hope for the best.”

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