Head of Economics at IMANI, Patrick Stephenson has indicated that the government’s free Senior High School policy is estimated to cost $600 million yearly.
According to Stephenson, the “total proceeds that we have sitting in the Petroleum Fund now – some rough computation suggest we have a little over $300 million. How much do we need to invest in free education annually? Rough computations suggest something in excess of $600million if we have to do it right and do it well.”
Yaw Osafo Marfo, has indicated that the government’s Free Senior High School policy will be funded by the Heritage Fund.
The policy is set to begin in September 2017 and is estimated to cost GH¢3.6 billion yearly.
About 1.6 million eligible students between the ages of 15-17 years across the country are expected to benefit from the policy when it begins in September this year.
President Nana Akufo-Addo over the weekend said the free public SHS education was aimed at building an educated populace for speedy national development and progress
“By free SHS, we mean that in addition to tuition, which is already free, there will be no admission fees, no library fees, no science centre fees, no computer laboratory fees, no examination fees, no utility fees. There will be free textbooks, free boarding and free meals and day students will get a meal at school for free.
“Free SHS will also cover agricultural, vocational and technical institutions at the high school level,” Nana Addo said.
Many have since kicked against the move, saying it will not be feasible. A retired Ghanaian diplomat, K.B Asante said the implementation will not be sustainable especially with the financial situation of the country.
Patrick Stephenson has also said the government’s implementation of the free Senior High School (SHS) policy will fail due to the current economic conditions.
Speaking to Accra-based Class FM, Patrick Stephenson said “Now if you decide to go and take the resources out of your Petroleum Fund, clearly it still doesn’t fix your entire financing problem that you need and all of that is gone in just a year. Not that it’s a bad thing in itself, you should be able to demonstrate, for example, that it’s going to be sustainable for the long term and whatever they are putting in there goes in there, but we haven’t heard all of these things.”
However, Energy think tank Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) has warned the government to stay away from the Heritage Fund to finance its Free Senior High School programme (SHS).
According to ACEP, “it has been campaigning for the use oil revenue to finance the pro-poor sectors of education and agriculture for four years. Therefore, we cannot, in principle, be against the use of oil revenue to finance education.”
In a statement signed by the Deputy Executive Director of ACEP, Benjamin Boakye, he said “In spite of many implementation challenges, the PRMA has been a model for many countries and Ghana can only do better at improving on transparency and accountability around the use of the oil revenues. Much as we support the use of oil revenue for financing education, we want government to recognize the significance of the Heritage Fund and not touch it”.