Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, says the government’s flagship programme, the Free Senior High School (SHS) policy, “is a heritage that every Ghanaian child must enjoy.”
Speaking Sunday at a press briefing in Peduase, Eastern Region, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah said, the current administration led by the President, Nana Akufo-Addo, views the Free SHS programme as a mandate to provide Ghanaian children with formal education to the senior high school level.
“If you’re born of this soil, a Ghanaian, the view of this administration is that, the state has an obligation in ensuring that you are resourced in your upbringing including providing you with formal education to the senior high school level and that is why the state is bearing that bill,” the Minister told journalists.
In recent times, the Free SHS policy has received criticisms concerning how the programme is being funded and implemented. The latest among such critics is the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER).
According to ISSER, government’s revenue position cannot sustain the ambitious initiative in the manner in which it is being implemented. The institute has suggested that government’s flagship Free SHS should be targeted at households with a proven record of low income so that the families that need the free secondary education get it while money is saved in the national purse.
However, the Information Minister has earlier disagreed with the report stating that “It is not necessarily based on whether your parents are rich or poor. It is to ensure that every Ghanaian child benefits from quality education up to the secondary school level.”
Speaking at the press briefing this Sunday, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah said the Free SHS programme, which is funded from about 40% of the Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA), is sustainable, considering Ghana’s luck in striking oil in new oil fields.
“Our view is that the ABFA is quite huge; we have more production on some of the oil fields that are even now coming up. If today with the limited one we have, 40%, is what is going to Free Senior High School, and it is delivering the programme this efficiently with the kind of benefits out there, our view is that currently, it is sustainable.”
However, the Minister was quick to add that government is still searching for other avenues for funding towards social intervention programmes.
“That does not mean that our eyes are closed to options of raising more revenue even if it needs to be targeted specifically to social programmes like the free senior high school programme,” he added.
According to Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, about 1.2 Million Ghanaian children are now benefiting from the Free SHS programme.