During the Mid-year and Supplementary Budget Review in Parliament, the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta said the implementation of the free SHS programme since 2017 has saved parents and guardians a total amount of GH¢ 2.2 billion.
The Finance Minister in acknowledging education as a driver in “social and economic mobility,” the Government invested GH¢3.2 billion to implement the free SHS programme which resulted in 1,199,750 students sustained in secondary schools, a marked increase from the 813,443 students enrolled in 2016/2017 academic year.
He further added that through the NABCO Initiative, the government made a significant investment in bringing down youth unemployment.
“We have also invested in excess of GH¢1.6 billion in 100,000 jobless but educated young adults who had been ignored by the State and were in despair. Through the new NABCO initiative, they have been engaged in various state and private institutions, with some of them securing permanent jobs in the process. That is money in the pockets of our youth,” he said.
Moreover, under the Kufour led Government, the 2005/2006 academic year, witnessed the implementation of the Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) which was aimed at providing, at least, one meal to school children in deprived communities.
The feeding programme, between 2016 till date has been extended to reach 2,980,000 pupils in deprived communities, representing an increase of 78.3% in beneficiaries the Finance Minister said.
The government must be lauded for honouring its promise of providing free SHS which is aimed at providing free secondary level education to all Ghanaian school children and expanding the reach of the school feeding programme.
Some sections of Ghanaians, however, including economic experts, are still of the view that the economy will pay a hefty price in the future.
However, Professor Ivan Addae Mensah, former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana in a radio interview made the following remarks “…..now these children who are now being produced en masse will soon be going to the universities, where are they going to be put, we haven’t even started planning that aspect of it and how much it’s going to cost…,”
The future of the free SHS programme remains to be seen.