Free SHS in limbo: Finance minister says the rich must pay as new shift system begins

Free SHS in limbo: Finance minister says the rich must pay as new shift system begins

- The finance minister says the free SHS policy must not be free for the rich

- Ken Ofori Atta says those able to pay for SHS education must do so

- Government has introduced a shift system for the free SHS program

The government has introduced some changes regarding the free senior high school program. This program, which remains the flagship program of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) seems to be hitting a snag.

Just when the program was rolled out in 2017, the NPP administration made it known that proceeds from the oil funds will be channeled to pay the GH¢453 million ($103m) cost of the Free SHS program.

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The original motive of the free SHS policy is for all Ghanaian students of all economic class to have senior high education without having to pay a cedi.

The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has, from the day of the program's implementation argued that the policy is not feasible.

Things seem not to be turning out as the NPP expected as the finance minister, Ken Ofori Attah, has made the case for the rich and wealthy to be left out of this new program.

"I can't take my child to Achimota ....and drive away and Ken Ofori-Atta not pay anything whilst I can pay for 10 people.," the minister revealed.

Former education minister, Jane Naana Opoku Agyeman, told Joy FM that the NPP's Free SHS promise was "not feasible" given the severe infrastructural deficit, the financial constraints and an ever-increasing youthful population that would make funding a nightmare for the Finance minister.

Free SHS double tracking system

Meanwhile, the education minister, Mathew Opoku Prempeh, has revealed that the free SHS program will now be a shift system called the "double track system".

The minister revealed that this new system will improve enrollment and improve the policy.

This new shift system will take effect from August and will see SHS 2 students divided into two shift categories where each group goes on a 2-month vacation on a rotational basis.

How SHS double tracking system works

What this means is that while one shift is on vacation, the other will be in school. In Ghana, the school calendar starts from September and ends in April with three different terms.

The first term is from September to December, the second term starts in January and ends in April while the third term is from April/May to July.

Also, every semester will be 80 days for the two tracks. For one semester, every track will be in school for 40 days then go for a break for 40 days. Teacher motivation has been increased from 20 hours for the year to 70 hours for the year.

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To support this new project, the government will now be employing about 8000 new teachers to complement this new shift system.

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