The Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) in collaboration with the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI) and Starr FM will convene a national dialogue on finding sustainable funding options for the ‘Free SHS’.

The event will take place at the La Palm Royal Beach Hotel on Wednesday, 22nd March 2017.

The Minister of Education Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh will deliver the keynote address, followed by presentations from experts including the chairman of PIAC Mr. Joseph Winful.

Among the topics to be discussed are: The State of Ghana’s Public Finances, What is the full cost of financing the ‘Free SHS’ – including T&LMs, Teachers and Infrastructure and How can the ‘free SHS’ policy ensure Quality, Access and Sustainability.

The government has indicated through the 2017 budget statement its intention to finance a portion of the ‘Free SHS’ policy from Ghana’s petroleum revenues. This has generated public debate on Ghana’s educational system as a whole and raised concerns about sustainable funding for the policy without compromising on quality and access.

The NPP manifesto promised to redefine basic education to include SHS, covering vocational, agricultural and technical schools, and make it available and free for all Ghanaians. Currently basic education includes Pre-school, Primary, and Junior High School. Against the backdrop of Ghana’s current challenging fiscal environment, critical questions have been raised pertaining to the implementation of this policy.

The dialogue will be convened with the following outcome objectives:

– Discuss sustainable options for funding the ‘Free SHS’ outlining the potential contribution from petroleum revenues.

– Advocate for additional information on an implementation and costing strategy which states the government’s plan for rolling out the ‘Free SHS’ policy and manage the public’s expectations.

– Discuss the current financing options for secondary education and highlight the potential impacts of this new policy on existing educational infrastructure, enrolment rates, and the quality of teaching and learning.

– Draft a policy paper at the end of the discussions to be shared with key stakeholders explaining in detail potential funding options as well as risks and opportunities that each funding option presents.

– Generate broader conversation around the sustainable use of petroleum revenues.