The deputy ranking member on the Education Committee of Parliament, Clement Apaak has questioned President Akufo-Addo’s commitment to his flagship programme, Free SHS policy.
According to him, the neglect of advice from stakeholders in the educational sector gives credence to the fact that the government’s Free SHS policy is not a top priority.
His comment follows a communique released by CHASS on the 14th of October 2022 at the closing ceremony of the 60th Anniversary Celebration and Annual Conference in Koforidua.
CHASS wants government to urgently address the teething challenges hampering the successful implementation of the free SHS policy in second-cycle schools.
But Apaak doubts if those who superintend over secondary education will ever be heard saying if the government believes so much in its flagship programme, then all the complaints should have been addressed long ago.
“If it’s your flagship programme and you want to be sincere to it, most of these issues that have been covered ought to have been addressed long ago. Because there is no reason why they ought not to be addressed.
“I am beginning to question the sincerity of Akufo-Addo as far as the claim that the Free SHS policy is the flagship programme,” he told Accra-based Okay Fm.
Below is the full statement
COMMUNIQUE ISSUED BY THE CONFERENCE OF HEADS OF ASSISTED SECONDARY SCHOOLS (CHASS), AT THE END OF ITS 60TH ANNUAL CONFERENCE/ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION, HELD AT THE AUDITORIUM OF THE KOFORIDUA CENTRE FOR NATIONAL CULTURE IN THE EASTERN REGION
We, the members of the Conference of Heads of Assisted Secondary Schools (CHASS), having met at Koforidua, in the Eastern Region from the 9th to 15th of October 2022, for our 60th Annual Conference/Anniversary Celebration and having deliberated on the theme:”60 years of shaping Second Cycle Education in Ghana, the Challenges and Successes in Contemporary times – The Role of Stakeholders”, do hereby issue the following communique.
We, members of CHASS, recognizing the huge responsibilities and commitments associated with the implementation of the Free Senior High School (FSHS) policy, do acknowledge and affirm the diverse roles government had played and continues to play in ensuring the success of the Free Senior High School (FSHS) policy.
- We acknowledge the huge and unprecedented budgetary allocation of Government towards the implementation of the FSHS policy and education in general.
- We acknowledge and appreciate the procurement of vehicles (Buses and Pickups) to schools.
- We acknowledge the numerous infrastructures put up, the establishment of the many STEM schools across the country.
- We appreciate and acknowledge that GES and the MOE have heeded to some of the issues captured in the communique of its 59th Annual Conference of CHASS held in Bolgatanga in 2021 and other previous communiques such as; the provision of textbooks for elective subjects, curtailing the intimidation and undue interdiction of Heads over otherwise trivial matters etc.
- We indeed acknowledge and appreciate the improved cordial relationship between CHASS and its superior i.e. GES Management and the Ministry of Education in recent times.
- CHASS acknowledges and affirm the sacrifices made by Heads of Senior High Schools and the staff, both teaching and non-teaching, for their dedicated roles in the course of the year and without whose efforts, help and support the system could not have run on smoothly.
- CHASS acknowledges the efforts and enormous support of some PTAs, Old Students, other organizations, individuals and other stakeholders for their wonderful support to schools in these trying times of our educational history. We particularly mention the donation of food, stationery, cash etc. by the above stated constituents.
CONCERNS AND RESOLVES
CHASS notes with concern that, we do not get most of our concerns addressed adequately over the years. Indeed, that most of the issues captured in this communique and the resolutions are age long problems associated with the FSHS policy since its inception. CHASS further notes that, these issues had been raised in its previous communiques with little attention paid to them. CHASS is very much convinced that the issues raised, if heeded to, would resolve most of the avoidable problems bedeviling the smooth implementation of the FSHS policy, an otherwise excellent policy. We are therefore compelled to repeat and reiterate the gray areas of the implementation of the policy for government and management to address.
CHASS therefore request and propose the following:
- CHASS request of its members to stay committed to the implementation of all government policies. CHASS request of its members to exercise the highest-level professionalism in the performance their duties.
- CHASS request of its members to show a high level of leadership in trying to nip the bud, the increasing reported cases of exam malpractices in our WASSCE especially on the use of mobile phones and the carrying of foreign materials into exam halls.
- CHASS charge its members to put premium on the WASSCE Chief Examiners report circulated to schools. Heads must ensure that these reports are thoroughly discussed and their recommendations implemented.
- Government should consider the issue of Cost Sharing theory. It has become abundantly clear that government alone cannot totally foot the cost of education. Government must therefore offset some of the cost to parents/guardians. CHASS recommends that the components to offset to parents must include and not necessarily limited to the feeding of students.
- The role of National Buffer Stock Company in the supply of food to schools in itself is problematic in the smooth implementation of the FSHS policy. CHASS recommends therefore that, the Buffer Stock system, considering all the attendant problems associated with its role in the supply of food to schools must be scrapped immediately and FSHS Secretariat should re-channel those funds directly to the schools to perform those roles. This would reduce the extra stress of Heads struggling to even appeal to suppliers to supply food on behalf of the Buffer Stock Company, looking for non-existent funds to travel over various distances to cart food to our schools, dealing with under supplies and underweight supplies, over invoicing, and even intimidation by some suppliers. Mention must be made of the fact that, there are times some schools are denied of their food items when the Heads insist on the right thing.
- To curtail the challenge of inadequate and poor quality of furniture in almost all schools, the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the Ghana Education Service (GES) should allow schools to procure the furniture and some other basic materials like, marker boards and the likes from their immediate environment/local suppliers and submit the relevant documents to the FSHS Secretariat for payment to the suppliers. Since the inception of the FSHS policy, procurement of these items has been centralized. CHASS also believes that this would curtail the overpriced and poor quality of these items supplied from very far and sometimes from outside the country.
- In the current arrangement where emergency food supplies is now the order of the day, the following issues must be flagged, noted and heeded to;
Quantities of emergency items should always be made available to Heads.
Buffer stock should desist with immediate effect from requesting schools to travel various distances for food items. It is having a serious toll on our already meagre
resources some schools don’t even have vehicles to go and cart these items. Same for even some bulk supplies.
8.The MOE/GES should hasten the process of transiting all schools from the current semester system back to the traditional trimester system, since the current system puts a lot of stress on school facilities and infrastructure as well as staff and students. This should take place at the inception of the 2023 academic year.
9.GES should immediately make available to schools the revised quantities of food for schools to avoid the usual confrontations between Heads and their matrons.
10.CHASS wants to reiterate and restate its request to the MOE and GES to always ensure the timeous and adequate releases of funds; not only the money for perishables but also the money for recurrent expenditure to schools to enable them, not just to function, but to function effectively. It must be noted that the problems in our schools are not problems that should wait. The recurrent component of the fees caters for the very key areas of managing the school such as National Science and Maths Competition, sports and culture, sanitation, library, ICT,stationery,minor repairs, vehicle maintenance etc. Clearly the non-release of these monies for over the past year has seriously constrained the ability of Heads to manage the schools.
11.CHASS again calls on government to seriously consider the timely and adequate release of funds to Day Schools. Their only source of government funding is only one source i.e. the money for recurrent expenditure and any delay in their releases renders them very incapable of moving on. Indeed, Heads of Day Schools see their situation as punishment, compared to their counterparts in the Boarding Schools.
12.CHASS is again calling on government to take immediate steps to pay all arrears in respect of money for perishables and recurrent fees owed to schools.
13.Some schools are having challenges of electricity payment because they are connected with prepaid meters. With the delay, erratic and non-release of funds to schools, such schools go through untold hardship and disconnections. CHASS, therefore, request of government to immediately take steps to make sure that all schools revert to the use of postpaid meters instead of the pre-paid meters so as to relieve Heads of the headache of settling electricity bills.
14.The GES should as a matter of urgency make available the Code of Conduct for Students before the commencement of the 2023 academic year. CHASS is of the view that this issue has delayed unduly.
15.The PTAs are still not active in our schools. Government must come out with clear cut directives on the activities of the PTAs to enable the PTAs function effectively in all schools. This will also save Heads the unfortunate queries and sanctions applied to them in their dealing with PTAs in their schools and the fact that many PTAs are now very dormant due to the unclear, unwritten moratorium placed on their activities since the inception of the FSHS policy. This emanates from the fact that the contributions and impact of PTAs in the development and smooth running of the schools cannot be underestimated, overemphasized or swept under the carpet.
16.CHASS request an upward review of the WASSCE Practical fees to GHC 50.00 per student per subject or handover completely the entire process to a relevant body. The current situation where schools are indirectly made to bear the cost of WASSCE practicals because of woefully inadequate releases is unacceptable.
17.Since the implementation of the FSHS, some absorbed fees have never been released to schools thereby creating some serious financial management constraints for Heads in those respects. Particular mention must be made of fess in respect of maintenance, library, ICT, ID Cards. CHASS wonders what the MOE/GES has been using these monies for, over the years while the schools are in dire need of these monies.
18.CHASS is calling on government to relook at the incentives (motivation) packages paid to staff of schools which has seized coming in the past two years now. This forms part of the absorbed fees.
19.The MOE and FSHS for that matter, have been reviewing the prices of the mercantile items upward which it gives to the National Buffer Stock Company to supply. Sadly, for more than three years, despite the constant appeal by CHASS to the MOE do same for the perishable fees released to schools, nothing has been done in that respect, though the country has experienced soaring prices of food items and perishables in recent times. CHASS calls on the MOE to do the needful through an engagement with all relevant bodies immediately, as perishable fee paid to schools is no more sustainable. Currently, only GH₡1.56 per student per day for all the meals. This amount cannot even buy an egg or a ball of kenkey. CHASS respectively request for an upward review to an amount of GH₡5.00. Additionally, perishables coming to the schools should be sent directly to schools without sending it through so many transmission points.
- CHASS calls on all parents to live up to their parental responsibilities. The government’s implementation of FSHS policy should not be perceived as substitution of their parental responsibilities. Some parents have completely abandoned their responsibilities towards their wards and this must cease. We restate that governments everywhere and at any point in time cannot single handedly bear the full cost of education. CHASS therefore calls on parents to live up to their parental responsibilities.
SIGNED: ATTESTED TO:
BARO PRIMUS ALHAJ YAKUB AHMAD BIN ABUBAKAR
AST.NATIONAL SECRETARY PRESIDENT
FOR: NATIONAL SECRETARY 0544260199
Source: Ghana/Starrfm.com.gh/103.5 FM