The Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) has called for the reinstatement of the grading system hitherto used for admission of students into the senior high schools (SHS).
PIAC said: “The cut-off grades for admitting students should be restored, as students with poor grades struggle with subjects during the course of the term.”
Again, it noted that 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. Meanwhile, the Committee called on the Ghana Education Service (GES) to “pay more attention to the basic schools to improve the quality of students for the second cycle schools” in the country.
These and more were contained in a report released by the Committee, following its nationwide monitoring exercise on implementation of the Free Senior High School (FSHS) programme by the government. The monitoring exercise was undertaken in 2018 and 2019.
Other recommendation includes concerns on Technical and Vocational Schools which the Committee said should be adequately resourced with the necessary equipment and teaching materials.
It also urged the government to expedite action on the provision of infrastructure facilities to end the double-track system, extend contact hours, and relieve staff of the attendant extra pressures.
On its general observations, PIAC said the FSHS programme has resulted in a timelier reporting of students to school at the beginning of each term, compared to the period preceding the Free SHS. “Students no longer have to wait for school fees to be provided before reporting to school.”
Again, it observed that “core textbooks had been adequately provided in all schools visited, albeit late in some instances. Generally, the books were supplied in sufficient quantities.”
In addition to this, PIAC said the FSHS programme has led to an increase in enrolment, especially female students, in 41 percent of the schools visited.
However, it pointed out that the majority of the schools visited had insufficient classrooms, beds, labs and equipment, poor or inadequate staff quarters, a prevalence of bed bugs, and lack of infirmaries – and where they exist, there are no qualified nurses to man these facilities.
The exercise was in line with the Committee’s mandate of monitoring and evaluating compliance with the Petroleum Revenue Management Act, 2015 (Act 815) as amended in the management of petroleum revenues, and conducting independent assessments of the management and use of these revenues. The exercise covered 51 schools across eight regions, comprising, Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Central, Greater Accra, Northern, Upper East, Upper West, and Western regions.
The Committee’s decision was informed by the fact that the Programme benefited substantially from the Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA) through the selection of Physical Infrastructure and Service Delivery in Education as a priority area for petroleum revenue spending.
In 2017, 59 percent, being about GH₵196 million, of utilised ABFA was spent on the Programme, with 50 percent, amounting to GH₵415 million of utilised ABFA going to support the programme in 2018.
For 2019, approximately GH₵680 million representing about 32 percent of the projected ABFA, was allocated for the programme.
The exercise was aimed at obtaining first-hand information on the progress of implementation of the policy, the challenges and opportunities, and identifying areas for improvement.