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General News of Friday, 8 July 2005

Source: Graphic

Free Education Starts In September

THE payment of fees in basic schools throughout the country will cease from next academic year.

The Minister for Education and Sports, Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, announced this when he paid a familiarisation visit to some basic schools in the Accra metropolis yesterday.

The minister said the decision was part of the government?s effort to make education free and available to all children of school-going age.

Currently, schoolchildren pay only fees for sports, internal development, guidance and counselling, library, Parent-Teacher Association, culture, health, among others.

The minister said the government would pay an average of ?30,000 per child per annum through the district assemblies to settle all the fees, stressing that ? from September this year, no basic school will charge any fees?.
He said the ministry had put measures in place to stock all school libraries with books to enable the children to cultivate the habit of reading, particularly books on science, English and mathematics.
He urged the teachers not to prevent children from having access to the textbooks provided by the government, since they were meant to enhance teaching and learning.
Mr Osafo-Maafo said the ministry would also encourage Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in basic schools by providing computers and their accessories to schools that already have the infrastructure.
He appealed to financial institutions and corporate bodies to help the government to support education, particularly in the basic schools.
?It is unfortunate that PTAs and other institutions mainly direct their attention at only second-cycle institutions.
Let us try and support the foundation upon which the children move to such institutions,? he said.
Mr Osafo-Maafo commended the teachers for ensuring good hygiene in the schools and among the children.
The minister expressed concern about how most of the windows of the classroom blocks were designed with conical blocks resulting in darkness in the classrooms.
That, he said, might cause visual problems for the children, since they had to strain their eyes to participate in classroom activities.
At Nii Kojo Ababio Primary School at Mamprobi, the headmistress gave a startling revelation that the school, which was established in 1948, was in rented premises.
She appealed to the minister to facilitate the outright purchase of the building to avoid the embarrassment caused occasionally by the landlady, particularly when schools were in session.