The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has described government’s flagship Free SHS Senior High School (SHS) programme as poorly targeted.
The Fund made this observation in its latest country report on Ghana, whose request for a $3 billion bailout it recently approved.
According to the report, the Free SHS programme “which covers the full cost of secondary education, has helped increase enrollment but is poorly targeted.”
The IMF also disclosed that Ghana spends close to 4% of its GDP on education with good results in terms of enrollment but poor learning outcomes.
Key identified areas by the IMF which need potential improvement in education spending include strengthening primary education resources, better teacher training, and stronger performance-based funding practices.
JoyNews’ checks reveal the Free SHS programme has enjoyed a budgetary allocation of more than GH¢11.3 billion since 2019.
In the 2023 budget, government demonstrated its commitment stating that the implementation of the Free SHS Programme remained unwavering.
It also mentioned that the “total number of beneficiaries currently stands at 1.3 million students for the 2021/22 academic year” and this year, “government will continue with the implementation of the Free SHS Programme and continue to facilitate access to various educational items.”
Meanwhile, President Akufo-Addo, who spoke at a rally organised by the New Patriotic Party ahead of a bye-election in Kumawu on May 23, said President Mahama has been inconsistent in his position on the free SHS policy.
According to him, the NDC flagbearer has now shifted his argument from cancelling the programme to expanding it to include private second-cycle schools.
The inconsistencies, he said, do not make former President Mahama trustworthy.
In July 2022, Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, said a review of the Free Senior High School policy remains a constant possibility.
He explained that the Education Ministry continues to look at the policy with the aim of understanding how parents can be included in a manner that is not coercive.
“Review is constantly a possibility on the table. And it’s just to make sure that the appropriate education is given and that wastage is eliminated and it goes to give us value for money,” Mr Ofori-Atta told Joy Business’ George Wiafe in an interview.