Education Minister in charge of pre-tertiary education, Dr. Yaw Adutwum, has shot down calls from the Conference of Heads of Assisted Secondary Schools (CHASS) for a review of the Free SHS policy.
At a meeting in Cape Coast on Thursday, October 29, 2020, CHASS proposed a review of the Free SHS policy after three years of its implementation.
In that meeting, CHASS opined that the role of the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) together with the Buffer Stock System run for Senior High Schools should be reviewed.
Responding to a question at a media engagement, the Minister indicated that there will be ‘no review’ of the Free SHS policy.
He underscored the vital role of parents in the administration of a school. He explained that parents deserve an account of stewardship in the school and not to be invited to pay dues.
“Parents participate in schools not because you want them to pay dues. No! Parent voice is very critical. Headmasters should account to parents for their stewardship because their children are the primary beneficiaries of education.”
“So, when you tell me that because there are no dues, PTA is collapsing, then that means you are not using a structured democratic voice which allows parents to participate. Come to the school and participate and not to be charged dues,” he said.
Earlier on other platforms, the Minister justified rejecting the proposal saying a reintroduction of PTA levies will undermine the free SHS policy.
“To say that the government should somehow allow you [CHASS] to levy your own fees against parents in an era of free senior high school is what I don’t understand. I really don’t understand the point in saying that senior high school is free, the government has absorbed fees, the government is even paying development levies, which is even supposed to be used for school construction and other infrastructure development that the school wants to undertake and yet we are still asking the government to allow us to levy the students; no!,” Dr. Yaw Adutwum said.
However, the Minister noted that the government will not frown on voluntary donations from parents and well-meaning groups. That way, he maintained, students will not be denied an education because they cannot pay fees.
“That is not part of what free senior high school should be about. On the other hand, if you have a group of parents, or parents of any school, who are saying that can we support our school, yes, of course, they can support their school, they can voluntarily donate to support their school in the same way that old students do but cannot allow introduction of fees through the back door and then the results of that will be, students who cannot pay those fees will not be allowed to attend school; that will defeat the purpose of free senior high school which has alleviated the suffering of the poor in this country, and that is not what the government of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and free senior high school should be about,” the Deputy Minister of Education said.