Free SHS is for only 2017 BECE candidates; not for re-entrants – Minister

Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh[/caption] Education Minister, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh has given the clearest indication yet that government’s Free SHS Policy would not cater for persons who completed Junior High School before 2017. This means students who wrote the Basic Education Certificate Examinations (BECE) in 2015 and 2016 who for some reasons could not go to school but want to enter senior high school this year are not eligible to enjoy the Free SHS. When he took his turn at the meet-the-press series in Accra Thursday, Dr, Opoku Prempeh set out the criteria that qualify one to benefit from the policy which include being a Ghanaian, passing the BECE, and accepting to enrol in the public school you were placed. “Who qualifies? You have to be a Ghanaian, you have to write the current year’s BECE too…if I put you in a school and you said you won’t go, no scholarship would be offered.” Dr. Opuku Prempeh also maintained that those who get the scholarship under the Free SHS policy must work hard or risk losing the scholarship status. “Free SHS is for three years because secondary school is for three years. If you go there and you fail; you don’t work hard you won’t get the Free SHS scholarship for a fourth year. “It will start this year, this academic year 2017/2018 entrance for those who wrote the BECE this year, who passed, who get placed, who get enrolled at the place they have been given.” He later explained the length of the policy: “We said you can carry your Free SHS for three years because that is the duration of your study. So if you go to the first year, we will pay. You repeat your first year in year two we will pay. When you get to the second year in year three we will pay. But for year four we won’t [pay their fees]. The minister’s position could explain what some parents have described as “premature” shortage of re-entry forms at Ghana Education Service sub metros. sources at the Education Ministry suggest that the Ghana Education Service were not allowed to release the re-entry forms at all because the government was not in position to contain the number.

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In the 2017 budget statement presented to Parliament, government allocated 400 million cedis to fund the policy. Meanwhile, the minister explained that the policy will give 30 percent to catchment area: “For our best schools in this country, there are about 82 of them, 30% of their places will be reserved as a right to those from public schools across Ghana. The young lady from Nankpaduri who aspires to go to Wesley Girls and gets aggregate 24 should have a chance of going to Wesley Girls than my daughter living in Accra.” “There should be equity and we have to give chance to those who do not have,” the minister noted, adding “there will be no admission fees, no library fees, no science centre fees, no computer lab fees, no examination fees, no utility fees; there will be free textbooks, free boarding and free meals, and day students will get a meal at school for free. No student will be driven out of school for non-payment of Parent Teacher Association (PTA) dues; it is a voluntary organisation.” By Isaac Essel | | Ghana]]>