Free SHS Cost Ghana Over GH¢5 Billion Between 2017 And 2021: Minister Gives Spending Update To Parliament

Free SHS Cost Ghana Over GH¢5 Billion Between 2017 And 2021: Minister Gives Spending Update To Parliament

  • The free SHS policy has cost the state over GH¢5billion between 2017 to 2021, although the budgetary allocation for the period has been GH¢7 billion
  • The education minister Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum made the disclosure on Wednesday, March 22, 2023, when he addressed Parliament
  • The revelation gives credence to concerns by some critics of the policy that Nana Akufo-Addo's flagship education programme is a major burden on Ghana's depleted coffers

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President Nana Akufo-Addo's darling education policy, the Free Senior High School (Free SHS) programme has guzzled over GH¢5 billion between 2017 and 2021, with more than GH¢2 billion more spending in the pipeline.

This means the education policy that won Akufo-Addo the presidency in 2016 consumes over GH¢1 billion yearly.

Education minister Dr Yaw Adutwum told Parliament on Wednesday, March 22, 2023, the ambitious education policy that makes tuition, feeding and others completely free was allocated a budget of GH¢7,623,783,456 between 2017 (when the policy started) and 2021.

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Adutwum has said the free SHS policy has consumed over Over GH¢5 Billion Between 2017 and 2021.
Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum solves a mathematics problem on a whiteboard during a visit to a school, and some young Free SHS beneficiaries in the science lab. Source: Facebook/@yawoseiadutwum
Source: Facebook

Dr Adutwum explained however that out of this budgetary allocation, GH¢5,182,205,131.91 has been released by the finance ministry to his ministry to execute Free SHS activities.

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The minister was giving the updates in Parliament following a question by the opposition MP for Akatsi North, Peter Kwasi Nortsu-Kotoe.

Free SHS education policy

Nana Akufo-Addo campaigned with a promise to make secondary education free during the 2016 election and won. Since then, he has charged his appointees to ensure that education is made free from basic to secondary level in Ghana.

The president said a free education policy will give more children in Ghana the opportunity to access quality education.

In September 2017, the Ministry achieved a major milestone with the implementation of the Free Senior High School program. According to the government that year alone, secondary school enrolment saw an increase of 11%.

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Criticism of Free SHS policy

Critics of the Free SHS policy say it cost the state too much money to sustain it, while at the same eroding the quality of secondary education.

People who hold the view that the policy will reduce the quality of education in Ghana point to a lack of supporting facilities like classrooms, dormitories and others that make teaching and learning effective. This criticism came to a head when the double-track programme started under the free SHS policy.

Some parents have also said that even though the policy is supposed to be free, they are having to spend a lot on extra classes. They would rather the policy was scrapped entirely or that government targets the policy at people who cannot afford it.

Akufo-Addo's finance minister Ken Ofori-Atta once publicly advised that the policy be made to target real needy people, stating at the time until the free SHS policy he was paying fees for his children and even those of others.

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He made that point to buttress his point that not all parents would be unable to pay their wards' fees.

Government threatens to close down non-performing secondary and vocational schools

Meanwhile, has reported in a separate story that Education Minister Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum threatened to close second-cycle institutions failing to live up to expectations.

He told heads of secondary and vocational schools in Kumasi on March 11 and 12 that they must roll out intervention programmes to improve their pass rates, especially if they are in the 0 to 10% region.

He said if a school is closed, affected students would be redistributed to nearby schools to continue.

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George Nyavor (Head of Politics and Current Affairs Desk) George Nyavor writes for He has been Head of the Politics and Current Affairs Desk since 2022. George has over 9 years of experience in managing media and communications (Myjoyonline and GhanaWeb). George is a member of the Catholic Association of Media Practitioners Ghana (CAMP-G). He obtained a BA in Communications Studies from the Ghana Institute of Journalism in 2010. Reach out to him via

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