Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Otiko Afisah Djaba has said Government is committed to ensuring that every Ghanaian child of school going age is given free, quality education from kindergarten to the Senior High School level (SHS).
This, she said, was to give equal opportunities for all Ghanaians, and to also ensure that every child of school going age would go to school, stay in school and finish.
Ms Djaba was speaking at the 143/25 Years of SHS/4th Speech and Price Giving Day of Kinbu Secondary Technical High School (KSTHS) in Accra.
The ceremony, which brought together old students and teachers of the school, parents as well as opinion leaders, was held under the theme: “143 Years of Resourcing the Nation.”
She said with this vision of His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the Free SHS policy was rolled out in all public schools, Technical, Vocational and Agricultural institutions for 2017/18 academic year, adding that, a total number of 424,092 students were admitted in the various school across the country.
“Under the Free SHS policy, first-year students are not charged admission, library, science centre, computer laboratory, examination, feeding and utility fees among others. This extra-ordinary gift is to catapult us out of poverty, cushion us from the pain of not being able to pay fees and the occurrence of dropping out of school.”
Ms Djaba said the Free SHS policy by the New Patriotic Party Government has come to stay and that Government would ensure that all Ghanaian children are educated to ensure equal opportunities for all.
She said President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s Government is committed to collaborating with various partners to expand physical infrastructure, provide free core subject textbooks and continue with the Secondary Education Improvement Project which KSTHS was a beneficiary.
The Gender Minister said the fulcrum around which any educational policy revolves was the teacher and that without teachers, “the centre cannot hold”.
She said a well trained, motivated and professional teacher is essential in providing quality education and that this was why Government was poised to ensure that under the Free SHS education policy, teachers would be given the necessary tools, motivation and proper supervision to enhance teaching and learning.
Ms Djaba said the NPP Government sees the educational sector as very indispensable in the country struggle for social, economic and political advancement and continues to support the sector, adding, “Currently, close to 9 million (8,891,892) young Ghanaian people representing about 36 percent of our population are in school from the basic to tertiary level.”
She said Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, the Finance Minister in the 2018 Budget Statement to Parliament, announced that GHC 9.26 billion would be paid as Government’s allocation to the education sector for 2018.
The Minister said in ensuring that more children enrol, retain and complete their basic education, the NPP Government in the 2018 budget statement has also allocated GH¢468.5 million to the Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) under the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection to provide quality meal to the pupils.
“As further demonstration to the educational sector, Government has lifted the ban on recruitment of teachers, clearing at least 22,000 teachers and has also restored the teacher trainee allowance with a commitment of 144 million Ghana cedis to be paid to trainee teachers every academic year.”
She said Government was putting in place all the necessary steps to deal with the educational infrastructure challenges, such as teachers and students accommodation and teaching and learning materials if not all.
Ms Elizabeth Sackey, Deputy Greater Accra Regional Minister, charged teachers and parents to ensure that their children of school going age were sent to school to enjoy the educational package.
She appealed to them to support the Government effort to develop the country and also called on parents to support their children no matter what difficulty they go through.
Madam Gloria Adukunu, the Headmistress of the School, thanked the President for the Free SHS initiative, adding that, the school has a population of over 1,600.
She appealed for the construction of an assembly hall and a canteen and also called on stakeholders to assist the school to reclaim their encroached lands.
The Gender Minister also commissioned a two-storey 18 Unit Classroom Block in honour of President Akufo-Addo.