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Free SHS Not Cause of Congestions

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The Minister of Education, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, has said that the challenge of overcrowding and infrastructure deficit in some Senior High Schools (SHS) across the country cannot be blamed on the newly introduced free SHS programme.

According to him, striking reports of congestions, were in schools with fewer enrolment figures than the capacity on record which completely demystifies the argument.

Taking his turn at the Meet the Press series in Accra, Yesterday, the Minister explained why the challenge of congestion should not be blamed on the new education programme.

He said in Vitting SHS in the Northern region for instance, there had been reports that students were compelled to sleep under trees, on the veranda of the school library and in classrooms because there were no spaces in the dormitory.

The school had even been labelled as “one of the most densely populated second cycle institutions.”

For this school in particular, Dr. Opoku Prempeh said the Head had even requested more students but was given less, and so the government could not be reprehended for the alleged burden on that facility.

“When we asked the schools to bring their vacancies, the head wrote that he can admit 550 (400 boys and 150 girls) in boarding…this same school when the Head was asked if he had any infrastructure challenges; he said he did not have any and that he could place these students without any problem,” the Minister said.

He continued: “As we speak the number of students who have been enrolled are 533 that means 20 have not reported. So, how does that become a congestion caused by free SHS?”

According to Dr. Opoku Prempeh, reports that students of Vitting SHS were sleeping outside the dormitories could be as a result of the temperature in the Northern region.

“Anybody who has gone to school or stayed in the North, you know that it gets to a time of the year people sleep outside…it’s a fact. It is not about congestion; it is about temperature,” he noted.

For those schools that recorded more enrolments than what was expected, the minister said the Heads of the schools were responsible.

He revealed that some School Heads had opportunities for protocol allocations and that was where the extra figures where coming from.

In the midst of all the reports, the Minister admitted that there were indeed challenges with the free SHS which government is working hard to address.

Dr. Opoku Prempeh said government had released an amount of Ghc80 million has address issues of furniture and beds.

Buffer Stock

On reports that the government was imposing food suppliers on some schools, the minister said it was untrue.

According to him, the buffer stock which is the legal authority for food, does not directly supply any school with food however, they have the ability to abrogate the contract with a supplier who is under performing.

He therefore called on all heads of institutions to ensure that their preferred supplier is registered under the buffer stock to be able to supply to the schools.

Source: Grace Ablewor Sogbey/ ksogbey@gmail.com

 

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