President Nana Akufo-Addo says the decision to implement the Free SHS policy was not influenced by a desire to score political points, but by the need to offer opportunities for Ghanaians, especially the deprived and marginalised.
“The Free Senior High School policy continues to be controversial; some people are determined to make politics out of it.
“For me, it is not about politics, it is about the progress of our country – what kind of education policy we should have that will allow us to move forward quickly.
"They said I couldn’t do it, it will be a reality,” he said.
The President is scheduled to launch the programme at the West African Secondary School (WASS) at Adenta in Accra on Tuesday, where he will also provide further details on his flagship education policy.
The policy is expected to afford over 420,000 senior high school students free access to secondary education.
At the 60th anniversary of the Okuapeman SHS at Akropong-Akuapem, President Akufo-Addo said the Free SHS policy 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,” the President had said.
Despite challenges that greeted the implementation of the policy on Monday with the reopening of schools across the country, parents and some heads of high schools have welcomed the move.
Some schools say they are yet to receive funds that will support the implementation of the programme, amid claims some headmasters are charging fees exempted from the policy.
Some parents complain the computerised school placement system has failed to select their children. Others say their children have been sent to day schools at locations far away from their residence.
Speaking Monday at the Flagstaff House the President called for public support to make the policy successful.
“I need the support of people like you and all well-meaning Ghanaians to make a success of this policy. If it succeeds it opens up huge opportunities for a lot of people who perhaps didn’t see a future for themselves,” the President urged.
Meanwhile, Government says it will sanction any head teacher who charges fees exempted from the policy.
Public Relations Officer of the Ministry of Education, Otor Plahar, said the Ministry will descend heavily on any headmaster trying to derail the implementation of the programme.
Mr Plahar was speaking Monday on Adom FM’s flagship political programme, Burning Issues, hosted by Afia Pokua on some challenges associated with the registration and placement of some SHS students across the country.
“People should not take things for granted, so definitely the Minister of Education will not sit down for anyone to derail this programme so I can assure you any headmaster found flouting the directive will be brought to book“ he cautioned.
The warning follows reports by some parents that authorities at the Presbyterian Senior High Technical School at Aburi in the Eastern Region are taking in excess of GHC 320 from parents for the purchase of sandals, jacket, PTA and other school items, in contravention of government's directive.