The Water and Sanitation Minister, Hon. Joseph Kofi Adda has undertaken a monitoring tour to some Senior High Schools [SHS] in the Upper East Region of Ghana to check compliance of schools in respect of government’s implementation of the free SHS programme.


It will be recalled that the President, H.E Nana Addo Dankwah Akufo-Addo officially launched the programme on Monday 12th September, 2017 in the Adentan Municipality in the Greater Accra Region.


It was therefore on this background that Hon. Adda was in the Region on the instructions of the President to see how far the implementation was going as well as report on any difficulties or problems likely to crop up in the process.


In the company of Upper East Regional Minister, Mr. Rockson Ayine Bukari and the Bolgatanga Municipal Chief Executive, Mr. Joseph Amiyuure, the Water and Sanitation Minister headed first to the Bolgatanga SHS popularly known as BIG BOSS. Headmaster of the school, Mr. Abaabu Afelibuiek reported to the team that the school requested 709 new entrants but the Computerised Selection and Placement System [CSPS] placed 590 students to it. Of this number however, 588 had so far reported.


Hon. Adda who is also the Member of Parliament [MP] for the Navrongo Central Constituency, in his interactions with some of the students, personally asked if they were made to pay any fees or levies by the school authorities and they answered in the negative much to his satisfaction. He explained to the students that, the Free SHS programme targets to take off a huge financial burden on parents and guardians while giving students across the country a peace of mind to study without contemplating whether or not they would be sacked from school for non-payment of mandatory fees and other school levies which was hitherto the case.


He assured the students that once they studied hard and made good grades right through to the university and completed, they were guaranteed of brighter opportunities in the world of work and business. He advised the students to respect their authorities and obey school regulations emphasising, “don’t leave school without permission and report problems to the authorities when you have issues”.


Mr. Rockson A. Bukari who also addressed the students, described President Akufo-Addo as a transformational leader who sees education and human resource development as central to the progress of Ghana and that, everything will be done to ensure that the Free SHS programme does not fail. He entreated the students to be time-conscious, discipline and humble at all times. He also tasked them to justify this huge intervention by government on their education by taking their academic work seriously.


The team then made a second stop at the Bolgatanga Girls’ SHS and learnt from the Headmistress, Mrs. Rose Avonsige that her school had requested 585 first-year students but the CSPS gave a total placement of 477 students. She disclosed that 401 students had been registered while 201 of them had reported to school at the time of the team’s visit. She however used the occasion to make a passionate appeal to the Water and Sanitation Minister to assist the school with a water source and toilet facility. Responding to this appeal, Hon. Adda pledged to construct a 12-seater water-closet toilet as well as drill a borehole with a corresponding overhead storage tank for the school.


The Notre Dame Minor Seminary SHS in Navrongo in the Kassena-Nankana Municipality was also visited. Here, 91 students were requested but 110 students were eventually placed to the school. The Rector, Rev. Father Francis Kudilogo explained that no single student had yet reported because the authorities had scheduled this Friday, 22nd September, 2017 as reporting date for the fresh students.


Meanwhile at the Navrongo Secondary School known widely as NAVASCO, Headmistress Mrs. Francisca Yezura disclosed that as at last Monday, September 11, 2017, her school and other sister schools in Upper East had received 20 percent payment of cash earmarked for disbursement to the various SHSs for their feeding grants and other expenses. She said the school also took delivery of some prescribed textbooks which were being distributed to students.


On the numbers sent to her school, Mrs. Yezura revealed that 650 students were requested but 630 were placed. At the time of the visit, 598 students had been registered while 96 of them had actually reported for admission.


The last stop of Hon. Kofi Adda’s monitoring visit was at the Sandema Secondary-Technical School in the Builsa North District of the Upper East Region. Headmaster of the school Mr. Solomon Adongo, disclosed that he requested 700 students but got 459 placed by the CSPS. Of the number placed, 285 were registered while 125 reported to be admitted into the school.


Hon. Adda at the climax of his rounds expressed satisfaction that the Free SHS Programme had successfully taken off in the Upper East but that one challenge he noticed, was the issue of students who missed out on admissions during the last academic who now rush to the schools to also have a taste of the Free SHS programme thereby bloating the numbers. He assured that discussions will be held with the Ministry of Education to absorb all these additional numbers.