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Opinions of Friday, 7 March 2014

Columnist: Mensah, Josuah

How free is the free SHS education

After the delivery of the State of the Nations address by his Excellency the President, his statement about the progressive introduction of fee- free education for SHS, Vocational & Technical education students, has triggered a lot of debate among the two biggest political parties; that’s the NDC & the NPP.

The issue of education was a bigger political issue during the 2012 electioneering campaign, but listening to the NPP then, I thought discerning Ghanaian voters were convinced that the NDC’s idea of making education accessible & ensuring its quality was more important to them than what the NPP proposed. The NPP then never considered the vocational & Technical education in their fee-free educational policy so, the argument that the NDC want to’ steal’ the supposedly NPP’s educational policy is neither here nor there. Please consider the following:

During the IEA encounter with Akuffo-Addo, he quoted the cost of the most
Touted free SHS education at GH¢78,000,000 for the 2013/2014 academic year.

Let’s do some analysis base upon the above figure.
Research from the Ghana Education Service (GES) revealed that the total number of SHS students for the 2011/2012 academic year was 721,000. So, if the total number of student as revealed by the GES is to be considered, then, for the whole academic year, the amount of money Akuffo –Addo intend spending on each SHS student will be GHS 78,000,000 = GH¢ 108
Three terms constitutes one academic year. So, base upon the above figures, the amount of money the NPP intend spending on each SHS student per term for the 2013/2014 academic year(if the student population remain the same), will be:
GHS 108 = GH¢ 36
3 Terms
In the heat of the 2012 campaign, & on a radio discussion at Peace FM, Kwame Sefa Kayi asked the then communication director of the Akuffo-Addo campaign team (Nana Akomea) “How free is the free education?” Listen to his response.
“The free education will cater for fees, books boarding and any amount that is required to be paid by the student including special levies.” So, Kwame asked Nana Akomea again; “the free education means a student has to take his/her luggage, say bye- bye to his/her parents and go to school? He answered in the affirmative.
Now, per the above analysis, can the NPP’s supposedly GH¢ 36 really cater for an SHS student per term in this modern Ghana? Let’s also consider this;
The Government approved fees for first year first term students in public boarding schools for 2012/2013 academic year was GH¢388.84. The fees for Day students for the same year is GH¢ 152.50
If every term is made of three months, thus, GES approved fees for first term first year day student per month for 2012/2013 academic year will be GH¢ 152.50 = GH¢ GH¢50.8 3 months

For a week, the fees will be GH¢ 50.8 = GH¢ 12.7 (Assuming every month has four weeks) 4weeks

This means Akuffo –Addo’s GH¢ 36 per student per term for his targeted 2013/2014 academic year can only cater for less than 3 weeks of the 12 weeks that students spend at school per term.
(That is GES’ GHS 12.7 per week X 3 Weeks) = GHS 38.(i e GHS 2.1P higher than the NPP’s intended one term school fees)The above analysis is base on the assumption that all the students are day students.
So, readers, how free are the free SHS education? Joshua Mensah, Tema ( 01/03/14