Ghana has rolled out its free senior high school programme for freshmen on Monday with 424,092 students expected to be beneficiaries during the 2017/2018 academic year.
The programme, also referred to as Free SHS, is part of the education policy promised by the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) led by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo during the 2016 presidential election campaign.
The government set aside GHS400 million ($90 million) to implement the programme which started on Monday.
Only senior high school freshmen will be beneficiaries of the first phase and they are exempt from paying fees for admission, tuition, library, examination, meals among others, the president explained ahead of the official launching on Tuesday.
The exemption also affects boarding school students who will not pay fees for accommodation as well as day school students who will get a hot meal each day at school for free, Akufo-Addo added.
President, Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo unveils the logo for the Free SHS project. #FreeSHSisHere pic.twitter.com/DfEG8YXbXh— Ghana Presidency (@flagstaffghana) August 31, 2017
The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), which made a similar campaign promise has condemned the limitation of the programme to freshmen only.
“By its inability to roll out Free SHS to cover those in second and third years, the NPP has only successfully vindicated those who said Akufo-Addo’s Free SHS promise was a hoax,” Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu told the media on Monday.
“What we have have been presented by the NPP is simply another version of Progressively Free SHS for some first years students,” he added.
The beneficiaries of the maiden Free SHS programme are expected to enjoy the policy till the end of their three-year high school period.