Over 5.7 million students have benefited from Free SHS programme to date – Africa Education Watch



The Africa Education Watch (Eduwatch) has revealed that the government’s flagship programme, the free senior high school (Free SHS) policy, has benefited over 5.7 million Ghanaian students since its inception in September 2017.

According to the education think tank, the significant increase in enrollment in secondary schools from 813,448 in the 2016/17 academic year to 1.3 million in the 2022/23 academic year can be attributed to the introduction of the Free SHS policy.

Eduwatch reported that during the first six years of the policy, an average of 422,940 students were enrolled annually, compared to an average of 260,490 annual enrolments in the six years preceding the policy.

In terms of government expenditure, the report indicated that between the 2017/23 and 2023/24 academic years, a total of GH¢12.88 billion was allocated to the Free SHS policy, with an average annual allocation of GH¢1.84 billion.

“Budget credibility has been on a continuous decline since 2018/19. Financial Burden Analysis of the free SHS Policy and Implications on Equitable Access academic year – from 120 percent in the 2017/18 academic year to 99 percent in the 2018/19 academic year, 76 percent in 2019/20, and 58 percent in 2020/21. In 2021/22, the lowest rate of 51 percent of approved funds was spent,” an excerpt of the report added.

Eduwatch recommended to the Ministry of Education (MoE) that in the short term, the focus of the free SHS policy should be directed towards addressing the needs of students from the most economically disadvantaged households.

They proposed leveraging data from the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme as a starting point for this initiative.

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