Civil Society Groups (CSOs) in Ghana Thursday urged the government to review the feeding component under the free senior high school (SHS) policy to make it cost-effective.
According to the group, feeding almost 1.3 million students across the country is the highest component under the policy.
Speaking at a CSO budget forum organized by the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI), Cletus Sungdong, Policy Analyst with the Africa Education Watch stressed the significance of the policy to the underprivileged but emphasized the need to re-examine the policy to cut down the waste associated with it.
He said, “The free SHS policy is brilliant as about 1.3 million students are currently benefitting however, the feeding component dominates the cost incurred and this is worrying.”
The Policy Analyst explained about 70 percent of students in senior high schools are in the boarding houses who are fed thrice a day and urged the government to reduce the percentage of boarders to save cost.
“It is important for the government to carry out needs assessment to target only those in need and allow those who can pay to pay. It is clear the policy is suffering and that is with financing,” he added.
The country’s Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, is expected to present the mid-year budget to Parliament before the end of this month and many have expressed concern about how the government would navigate through in the midst of the economic challenges as Ghana has already began meetings with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout.
Fiscal Policy Specialist with OXFAM, Alex Ampaabeng, said he expected the government to cut down expenditure on its flagship programs in the midst of the current economic challenges.
The free SHS policy is a government initiative introduced in September 2017 to provide education at the senior high school level free for students.
Under the policy, every child in Ghana who qualifies for, and is placed in a public SHS for his secondary education will have their fees absorbed by the government.
Finance Minister, Ofori- Atta on July 23, last year, told Parliament that the government had allocated a total of GH¢7.62 billion for the implementation of the program from 2017 to 2021. Enditem