The Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) has observed that despite the gains recorded in the implementation of the Free Senior High School policy, some challenges remain outstanding.
The independent statutory body - which is mandated to promote transparency and accountability in the management of petroleum revenues in Ghana - released its 2020 report Tuesday on the “2018-2019 Free SHS monitoring” where it made its observations on the policy known.
Some positive observations
According to PIAC, the Free SHS policy has resulted in a timelier reporting of students to school, compared to the period preceding Free SHS.
“Students no longer have to wait for school fees to be provided them before reporting to school,” PIAC observed.
On the supply of textbooks for Core Subjects, PIAC said they were provided in adequate quantities, albeit late in some instances.
The Free SHS programme has also led to increased enrollment in 41 percent of the schools PIAC visited, the report said, wrote adding that the enrollment of girls, in particular, has increased.
On the quality and timeliness of supplies, PIAC observed that “poor quality and unwholesomeness of some supplies, delays in supply of food and other items, and under or oversupply of some food items and provisions were pretty widespread.”
“The abolition of cut-off grades in the admission of students has led to a situation of dumping of poor-grade students in schools, particularly deprived schools,” the report said.
One of the major concerns PIAC observed textbooks for elective subjects were not covered by the policy.
“However, this has not been clearly communicated to parents by government, leading to a situation where some parents are refusing to take responsibility for the purchase of these textbooks for their wards. This situation is negatively impacting on the quality of teaching and learning in the schools,” they wrote.
Among its recommendations, the anti-graft body encouraged “vigilance on the part of school authorities in monitoring the quality of supplies, such as inspecting the expiry dates among others.”
This, they said “will prevent the suppliers from using the schools as dumping grounds.”
“In order to avoid the recurrence of over and undersupply of food items, the supply of food items by the Buffer Stock Company should be based on orders from the schools,” PIAC added.
They also recommended that government ensures “disbursements to the schools are done expeditiously as the non-free SHS students phase out, to avoid closure of the schools and disruptions to the academic calendar.”
In improving quality of SHS students PIAC said “the Ghana Education Service should pay more attention to the basic schools to improve the quality of students for the second cycle schools.”