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100,000 students fail to show up at SHS due to school fees – Education Minister

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The ministry of education has revealed that every year roughly about 100,000 students who are supposed to go to the various senior high schools in the country failed to show up in the schools of their choice, due to poverty.

8 to 10 percent in the north of children are not in school, and in the southern sector 10 to 35 percent of children of school-going age are on the streets, the ministry said.

Deputy minister in-charge of Secondary Education, Dr. Osei Adu Twum disclosed this in Tamale at a day’s meeting with all district chief executives, from the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions and members of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) communication team in Tamale, said over half a million BECE students are not in school.

The meeting was to explain in detail the implementation of FREE SHS, its sustainability and also clear doubts by the opposition NDC about the programme’s successful implementation. According to the deputy minister, 256,000 children have been placed through the self-placement and 36,000 didn't get placement. And, 157,000 didn't get schools in the first placement, the deputy minister added. About 25,000 students have not yet been selected as of Thursday.

Eight percent (8%) have not qualified to go to senior high schools and will have to re-sit the BECE next year. The deputy minister commended the past NDC administration for introducing the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) resit programme.

The re-sit programme, he added, will enable failed BECE candidates to catch up with their colleagues. In all, 467,000 BECE candidates qualified to enter into SHS. Beneficiaries of the FREE SHS, the minister said, will for the first time start school with all their core text books.

He said the ministry has issued a warrant for the disbursement of funds to the various SHSs even before the reopening of school. Every school across the country is getting 20 per cent of the money for a start.

Government is in a hurry because students usually didn't spend exactly three years in school to cover the entire syllabus and it affects their performance, he observed.

The previous NDC government’s Secondary Education Improvement Practice (SEP) policy was good but there was not improvement in the educational sector and the current government is providing extra funds but will hold school heads accountable for non-performance, he continued.

There is a 70 per cent failure rate at the WASSCE among students who don't get the required grades to enter into the universities, Dr Osei Adu-Twum revealed. On the intake, Dr. Twum urged Ghanaian's to disregard the NDC’s propaganda going round that the FREE SHS Policy has the intention of reducing student’s intake adding that after the first year of implementation, there will be a year-on-year review and comparison on enrolment for Ghanaians to judge," the Deputy Minister.

Sacking students over PTA levies

The government has also warned schools in the country to desist from sacking or preventing students whose parents are unable to pay Parent Teacher Association (PTA) levies from attending school.

The Ministry of Education, which issued the warning, said, apart from the approved Ghana Education General Development levy, all other levies should not deny children whose parents are not able to pay.

No school should stop a child from coming to school because of PTA levy. The concept of taking charges must stop because it is putting so much stress on parents, Dr. Twum said.

"The era of illegal charges is over," he declared. "Everything parents were doing is covered under the FREE SHS, the policy is comprehensively free and well-thought out.

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