The government is to spend about GH¢1.4 billion to fund the free Senior High School (SHS) programme in the 2018/2019 academic year due to increase in enrollment.
According to the Minister of Education, Matthew Opoku Prempeh, the additional cost is as a result of the need to construct 622 six-unit classroom blocks at a cost of GH¢405,300,000, provide 181,993 mono desks valued at GH¢81,896,850 for students and 3,730 units of tables and chairs for teachers at a total cost of GH¢3,655,400.
About GH¢539,500,000 of the funds, he said would be committed to the establishment of 415 dormitories, GH¢41,494,400 for the procurement of bunk beds while the engagement of 8,872 teachers would amount to GH¢267,236,989.
He said an extra GH¢55,824,750 would be further required to organise "academic interventions," a model designed as part of the double-track system to offer extra classes for students on weekends at various centres in each districts.
Mr. Prempeh was speaking in Accra yesterday when he took his turn at the 'Meet The Press' series to discuss matters arising in the educational sector.
Discussing the double-track school calendar, he said the absence of the needed infrastructure necessitated the introduction of the double-track system to meet the expected enrollment growth across the country.
He said the time for new entrants was too short for government to put up all the infrastructures even if the funds were made available.
The double-track system, he said would thus further reduce class sizes, increase contact hours between teachers and students and increase the number of holidays.
Mr. Prempeh explained that although all the schools would run on a two-semester system, only 400 of the 696 senior high schools would implement the double-track system.
Despite the system scheduled to run for a period of seven years, government he said would reverse it to the current system if enough infrastructure was made available before the intended duration.
In order to make funds ready for the provision of the needed infrastructure, he noted that government has securitised the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) to raise US$1.5 billion dollars for the completion of educational infrastructure which were in their early development stages.
As part of efforts to minimise challenges associated with the implementation of the double-track, he stated that 15 private schools have so far been absorbed by the Ministry of Education as part of the implementation of the free SHS programme.
Additionally, the ministry, Mr. Prempeh said has held stakeholder consultations with teacher unions, the Ghana Education Service Council, National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NaCCA), heads of faith based organisations and civil society organisations among others to keep them abreast of the system and what it entails.
In dealing with the huge enrollment figures for 2017, the minister said 13,200 seats were added to take total seats available to 290,737 adding that there was a current gap of 181,993 to meet the expected 472,730 seats for the 2018/2019 academic year.
Government, he said was also in discussions with the West African Examination Council (WAEC) to reschedule the final examinations of SHS students from the early part of the year to June to give students the space to prepare adequately.