IMF Criticises Ghana's Free SHS Project: Fund Says Enrolment Has Increased But It Is Poorly Targeted

IMF Criticises Ghana's Free SHS Project: Fund Says Enrolment Has Increased But It Is Poorly Targeted

  • IMF has said the free SHS education policy fails the test of proper targeting even though it has increased enrolment
  • The Bretton Woods institution made the comment in a report on Ghana as the country sought $3 billion in balance of payment support
  • The report by the IMF is similar to observations made by politicians like former president John Mahana and think tanks like IMANI Africa

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A report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Ghana's flagship Free Senior High School (SHS) policy has echoed some of the existing criticisms about the education policy.

Like former president John Dramani Mahama, IMANI Africa and others have said, the report by the Bretton Woods institution said the Free SHS policy is poorly targeted.

The Free SHS programme is a capital-intensive education policy introduced by the Nana Akufo-Addo administration.

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Nana Akufo-Addo (L) a lady carries a trunk with Free SHS boldly written in front of it and John Mahama. Source: Facebook/@nakufoaddo, @thomas.adugyamfi.33, @JDMahama
Source: Facebook

IMF makes strong remarks about Free SHS

The policy bills the state with the full cost of secondary education for every Ghanaian citizen.

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In IMF's latest country report on Ghana following the first part of a $3 billion bailout loan, the Fund noted that Ghana spends close to 4% of GDP on education with good results in terms of enrolment but poor learning outcomes.

"The flagship programme Free Senior High School which covers the full cost of secondary education, has helped increase enrolment but is poorly targeted,” IMF said in a country report noted.

The IMF report recommended that the government should improve education spending by doing the following:

  1. Strengthen primary education resources
  2. Train teachers better and
  3. Pursue stronger performance-based funding practices

Mahama recommends better targeting for Free SHS in the past

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John Dramani Mahama said in August 2022 that there was an urgent need for the government to review the Free SHS policy to safeguard quality.

“It is not too late for the government to review the free Senior High School policy in order to safeguard quality in the face of incessant challenges bedevilling the implementation,” he said.

He proposed for the policy to be improved with the introduction of a bursary system that targets deprived families while bringing on board private Senior High Schools that had the infrastructure to complement the policy.

Free SHS is safe Under the $3 billion IMF bailout

Meanwhile, reported in a separate story that finance minster Ken Ofori-Atta gave the assurance that the free SHS programme will not be affected under the $3 billion IMF programme.

Ofori-Atta gave the assurance on Thursday, May 18, 2023, during a press conference organised by the IMF and the government of Ghana.

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Free SHS won't be touched under $3bn IMF programme: Finance minister assures

He gave the assurance that the programme with the Bretton Woods institution is clear on protecting the vulnerable in Ghanaian society.

Mahama promises to fix problems with free SHS and NHIS if elected President

Also, reported that Mahama in early May promised to fix the challenges with the free SHS and NHIS if he is elected as president in the 2024 elections.

The former president and NDC flagbearer hopeful said the current administration has destroyed the flagship education and health policies with its poor implementation and corruption.

The man elected recently as NDC flagbearer for the 2024 polls made the comments in Kongo in the Nabdam District of the Upper East Region as part of his campaign tour.

Free SHS cost Ghana over GH¢5 billion between 2017 and 2021

In yet another story, reported that 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.

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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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