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Make Free SHS Funds and Subsidies Available to Heads Immediately: Ashanti Regional SRC Appeals to Govt

Student leaders of the various Senior High Schools accross the Ashanti Region have expressed worry about the implementation of government’s flagship Free SHS policy.

The President of the Ashanti Regional Students Representative Council (ARSRC), Raphael Quainoo Jnr has called on government on behalf of the students of the various Senior High Schools in the Region to as a matter of urgency address the bottlenecks of the Free SHS policy.
In his address at the Opening Ceremony of their 21st Annual Students Week Celebration, Raphael Qainoo was emphatic that though the policy was in principle a ground breaking social intervention policy, the policy has financially crippled school authorities who have resorted to a “no-money” response to any legitimate requests made by students.

The student leader added that government has blocked all avenues of revenue generation by the schools but doesn’t keep to timelines in the disbursement of monies to schools yet government expected the schools to run without hitches. He added that most of the recent Students unrest had undertones of the “no money” syndrome due to the free SHS policy. Schools are struggling to organize sporting activities, entertainment, SRC programs, Science programs, etc.
Payment of SRC dues to the Regional SRC was also were all suffering under the policy. He added that the implementation is adversely affecting all extracurricular activities like SRC, sports, entertainment, etc in schools as heads are unwilling to spend the limited funds they receive on these very important aspects of the holistic development of students.

He further added that under the policy government contracted Suppliers without the input of heads of institutions and this was not the best. He called on government to allow heads of institutions to negotiate their own supplies for better deals and make some savings for the benefit of the schools instead of lining the pockets of Suppliers who are private individuals at the expense of the school. He added that some schools were yet to receive some valuable supplies as at the 4th week of the term. However if the monies were made available to heads, they simply could procure their own supplies on time.

 

The Ashanti Regional SRC President made a passionate call on government to define clearly what monies of the Free SHS are due heads instead of keeping them in the dark and disbursing percentages that barely caters for the running of the school. He bemoaned the attempt to intimidate heads to keep silent and suffer when obviously running the schools under the policy is becoming difficult.

Raphael Qainoo Jnr who doubles as the SRC President of Asanteman SHS called on government to release subsidies of the continuing Students to heads on time to make funds available to the schools.

He called on the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service to take a look at the implementation and restructure it to give heads more flexibility for cash inflows and revenue generation to keep the schools going.

He used the opportunity to commend the Minister of Education for the rescheduling of the WASSCE exams which will allow candidates some few weeks to fine tune their preparations.
Below is the full speech of the President of the Ashanti Regional Students Representative Council.

 

Student leaders of the various Senior High Schools accross the Ashanti Region have expressed worry about the implementation of government’s flagship Free SHS policy.

The President of the Ashanti Regional Students Representative Council (ARSRC), Raphael Quainoo Jnr has called on government on behalf of the students of the various Senior High Schools in the Region to as a matter of urgency address the bottlenecks of the Free SHS policy.

In his address at the Opening Ceremony of their 21st Annual Students Week Celebration, Raphael Qainoo was emphatic that though the policy was in principle a ground breaking social intervention policy, the policy has financially crippled school authorities who have resorted to a “no-money” response to any legitimate requests made by students.

The student leader added that government has blocked all avenues of revenue generation by the schools but doesn’t keep to timelines in the disbursement of monies to schools yet government expected the schools to run without hitches. He added that most of the recent Students unrest had undertones of the “no money” syndrome due to the free SHS policy. Schools are struggling to organize sporting activities, entertainment, SRC programs, Science programs, etc.
Payment of SRC dues to the Regional SRC was also were all suffering under the policy. He added that the implementation is adversely affecting all extracurricular activities like SRC, sports, entertainment, etc in schools as heads are unwilling to spend the limited funds they receive on these very important aspects of the holistic development of students.

He further added that under the policy government contracted Suppliers without the input of heads of institutions and this was not the best. He called on government to allow heads of institutions to negotiate their own supplies for better deals and make some savings for the benefit of the schools instead of lining the pockets of Suppliers who are private individuals at the expense of the school. He added that some schools were yet to receive some valuable supplies as at the 4th week of the term. However if the monies were made available to heads, they simply could procure their own supplies on time.

 

The Ashanti Regional SRC President made a passionate call on government to define clearly what monies of the Free SHS are due heads instead of keeping them in the dark and disbursing percentages that barely caters for the running of the school. He bemoaned the attempt to intimidate heads to keep silent and suffer when obviously running the schools under the policy is becoming difficult.

Raphael Qainoo Jnr who doubles as the SRC President of Asanteman SHS called on government to release subsidies of the continuing Students to heads on time to make funds available to the schools.

He called on the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service to take a look at the implementation and restructure it to give heads more flexibility for cash inflows and revenue generation to keep the schools going.

He used the opportunity to commend the Minister of Education for the rescheduling of the WASSCE exams which will allow candidates some few weeks to fine tune their preparations.
Below is the full speech of the President of the Ashanti Regional Students Representative Council.

 

 

SPEECH DELIVERED BY RAPHEAL QUAINOO JNR (REGIONAL PRESIDENT OF THE ARSRC) ON THE OCCASION OF THE OPENING CEREMONY OF THE 21ST ANNUAL STUDENTS WEEK CELEBRATION OF THE ASHANTI REGIONAL STUDENTS REPRESENTATIVE COUNICIL

Mr. Chairman, the Regional Director of Education, The Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament of the Republic of Ghana, The Chief Executive Officer of the National Entrepreneurship and Innovative Plan (NEIP), Regional Patron of the Ashanti Regional Students’ Representative Council, Honourable members of the Association of Past Executives and Coordinators, Representatives of Other SRCs, regional officers present, members of the press, fellow students, Ladies and Gentlemen, all protocol observed.
As the calabash can never be forgotten when the palm wine foams, so as our God Almighty can never be left out of the success story of the Ashanti Regional Students Representative Council . Through the good times and the most difficult moments he has always been with us.

Mr. Chairman, this is our 21st annual students’ week celebration and as our Constitution stipulates, this occasion is the avenue for the Council to highlight it’s achievements, take stock of our challenges, assess the impact of educational policies on students and strategize for the future.

Mr. Chairman, The Council has carefully selected our motto; EMANCIPATION OF STUDENTS THROUGH DIALOGUE AND A PHILOSOPHY OF NON-VIOLENCE as the theme for this years’ celebration basically because we need to remind ourselves of our common objective as a Council in the midst of the growing concern for students unrests and demonstrations that is gradually gaining momentum in some of our member schools.

To recount pockets of incidences at Kofi Agyei Senior High Technical, Simms Senior High Commercial and Gyaama Pensan Senior High, I want to remind all students that the way to go in this modern era in seeking redress on any issue affecting the welfare of students is through dialogue and a philosophy non-violence. Matured student leadership demands proper negotiation skills and intellectual discourse of seeking solutions to grievances.

Mr. Chairman, after 21 years of championing students activism and advocacy across the Region, the Council demands from all students, a civil approach in seeking redress to all issues bothering them through the existing structures made available to students in schools.
Mr. Chairman, I want to take this opportunity to commend the students of Aduman Senior High School and their Local SRC for the matured way they postured themselves in insulating the students from the impasse between their Headmaster and some of their Teachers. Though the situation created enormous tension in school, you heeded to the admonitions of your Patron and the Regional Coordinator and managed to stay neutral. On behalf of the entire Council, I want to say you are a shining example to all, Aduman Senior High School.

Mr. Chairman, permit me to express my profound appreciation to the Regional Director of Education for the newly introduced Students Open Forum in our various second cycle institutions in the Ashanti Region.

This move is very commendable and will bring school authorities and the local SRCs together at least three times in the academic year to interact and deliberate on issues militating against the welfare of students.

Colleague students, I therefore charge you to take advantage of this platform to present pressing needs and concerns to your various heads of institutions for redress. I will also plead with heads of institutions to prioritize this open fora and make themselves available and accessible to their students so that they can learn at first hand problems of the students and strategize to deal with them. This obviously will eliminate the yawning gap between school authorities and the student populace.
I once again commend the Regional Director of Education for this bold initiative. Sweet Mummy, your children are grateful and we want to promise you that we will not let you down.

Mr. Chairman, we are eternally grateful to government for the bold step in the implementation of the free senior high school policy. This policy is a bold statement from the government on its priority for education in the country and we commend government for that. This is a ground breaking policy and the most impactful social intervention by any government in recent history. We applaud government for prioritizing education and redeeming it’s campaign promise.

However, Mr. Chairman, we entreat government to as a matter of urgency address the challenges associated with the policy to ensure smooth implementation. Permit me to recount few of the challenges from the implementation of government’s flagship free SHS policy.

The delay in the release of free SHS funds to the schools has crippled our institutions financially. Heads of institutions now answer to all legitimate requests made my various persons and outfits in our Schools with “no money” response which was never been the case under the paid system.

Sports, SRC, Culture, Science and Maths Quiz and other extra curricular activities are all suffering. Permit me to add that the underpinnings of some of the Demonstrations in our schools was the “no money” syndrome.

Heads are not able to carry out a lot of activities in the school as a result of delayed funds. Government released 20percent of the free SHS funds during the commencement of the implementation but interestingly the remaining amount delayed so much, bringing most institutions almost to their knees. Thankfully, our Heads of institutions, I call them magicians, managed to maneuver through with the support of funds from the continuing Students. What will happen when all the three streams of the Free SHS students are on board.

Mr. Chairman the release of the rest of the monies to schools has been shrouded in secrecy with most heads unaware of what is due them. The Free SHS Secretariat were calling for returns and accountability on the first trench of 20% before disbursement of another trench while Students were still being catered for in School. Permit me to ask, how was the Secretariat expecting the students to be catered for in the midst of the demand for returns. Why won’t government allow the term to end before these demands. Was it deliberate tactics to buy time? I keep wondering.

Again government dealt with Suppliers of the Free SHS at source and released payments to them without recourse to our heads of institutions. Mr. Chairman, this we feel, is not the best and makes the schools handicap in many ways. If heads were given the opportunity to negotiate with suppliers and to buy their own food stock and other supplies, they obviously can bargain better, make some savings and channel it to other areas.
Mr. Chairman, School management deal with various issues of cost in schools which are unforseen. Repairs, Damages and breakages, emergency situations, incentives etc. which all bother on cost, if the Free SHS seeks to block all avenues of revenue for the schools yet will not meet timelines in disbursement of funds to the schools then we are in for trouble.

We therefore solemnly call on government to review it’s implementation procedure especially in the area of supplies to schools and to afford our Heads of institutions the flexibility of negotiating and buying their own supplies from the Buffer Stock or other outlets.

Mr. Chairman, it is worth noting that some schools are yet to receive very essential supplies like grains, oils, uniforms and other consumables from the contracted Free SHS Suppliers as at the 4th Week of the term. These Suppliers deliver goods to schools with heads of institutions having no input or say in their output obviously because they were contracted from source. This is not the way to go. Government should review the policy to empower our school authorities to negotiate for their own supplies. Government should rather put in place checks and balances to ensure that it is done in the supreme interest of students.

Mr. Chairman, The Local SRC and the PTA of member schools played key roles in contributing to the development of schools under the old system. However under the Free SHS policy, these two key partners are all struggling.

 

Mr. Chairman, we commend government for the release of some of the outstanding subsidies to the schools to improve their financial standing and pay some of their debts but it is worth noting that the other outstanding subsidies are very much anticipated.

Mr. Chairman, how do we expect heads to manage our schools with little or no funds when government fails to release such critical funds to the schools for its operation. If government has accepted the obligation of absorbing some fees then it is imperative that government meet its obligations by releasing subsidies on time to the schools to meet its financial needs.

Mr. Chairman, government absorbed a number of fees including the SRC Dues under the free SHS policy. However, payment of SRC dues is gradually becoming a headaches for member schools under this policy.

Mr. Chairman one of the challenges faced by the Regional SRCs is the non-payment of the 20 percent of the SRC dues earmarked for the regional SRC per our collective agreement with stakeholders twenty one years ago.

Member schools have once again attributed it to the ‘’no money’’ syndrome. As we admonish government to come to the aid of our Heads of institutions, so we equally admonish heads of institutions to settle their SRC outstanding arrears owed the council.

Mr. Chairman, some member schools have simply refused to settle their financial obligation to the Regional Council. Some institutions owe as much as eight thousand to nine thousand Ghana Cedis and this obviously is not a healthy situation for the Regional SRCs.
We humbly call on government to treat our SRC dues like Sports and Culture and deduct the 20% from source for the running of the Regional Council.

Mr. Chairman, in recent times, the Ghanaian media has placed the spotlight on activities at the senior high school level and have negatively portrayed us to the teaming populace. Reports of sexual harassment and other negative practices across the region has dominated the media landscape coupled with unsubstantiated reportage that generalizes issues and portrays our teachers and institutions as almost good for nothing. This tarnishes the reputation of our dedicated teachers who continually make sacrifices for our future leaders with little incentives. As much as we do not condone any bad incidence in our schools, we call on the media to be very circumspect in their reportage in order not to demoralize our hardworking teachers. We also call on our female colleagues who are harassed sexually by any male teacher to use the structures available in our schools to seek redress. The local SRC, the local patron, the school counselors and the Regional SRC are all reliable platforms where such sexual harassment concerns can easily be taken up. We call on teachers whose actions and inactions are giving the service a bad image to rethink their actions.

Mr. Chairman permit me to commend the Ministry of Education for the rescheduling of this year’s West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE) which was scheduled to take place next month. The few weeks difference will afford our final year students an opportunity to fine tune their preparations for the examination. We are grateful to the Minister of Education for his foresight in encouraging WAEC to reschedule the time table in the interest of final year candidates. I call on all candidates to burn the midnight candle and prepare adequately to take advantage of the situation and make the investments in their education worthwhile.

In conclusion Mr. Chairman, in order not to be accused of plagiarism in my Presidential address, permit me to quote the famous Publius Syrus in Latin who says “Ubi concordia, ibi victoria” which means “Where there is unity, there is victory.

Let’s all unite towards our common course of emancipating Students through dialogue and a philosophy of non-violence.

Long live our nation Ghana,
Long live the ARSRC
Long live Students activism and advocacy
Thank you.

 

 

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