A DAILY GUIDE source said yesterday that President John Dramani Mahama himself knows that the ambitious projects could not be completed and has said it could only be done beyond 2020.
“The president is aware that the construction of 200 SHSs in this present time is not feasible. The government is looking beyond 2020 when the projects could be completed,” the source said.
200 SHSs Pledge
Currently, the government has completed and commissioned less than 25 out of the 200 Community Day SHSs it promised.
The World Bank is sponsoring 23 of the 200 school projects with the rest to be financed by the Government of Ghana.
DAILY GUIDE learnt that most of the commissioned schools were the World Bank-funded ones, while the Ghana government ones are struggling to come into limelight since there is no cash to complete them. This is the more reason why the president cannot fulfill his campaign promise of 200 schools – now reduced to 70 by November.
Interestingly, the NDC government has not been able to tell Ghanaians the actual cost of the entire 200 SHS projects.
Currently, all those Day schools being fully financed by the government are either at various stages of completion or are even yet to be started due to lack of funds.
Another source has said that many contractors were awarded contracts but there is no money for them to even go to the sites as securing loans from the banks to even pre-finance the projects had been impossible.
The figure shifted from 200 to 70 when President Mahama honoured hardworking NDC founding members in Accra recently.
Speaking at the 24th anniversary of the formation of the party in Accra, President Mahama said, “The on-going Community Day SHS programme is also a major addition. I have had the privilege in Chinderi, Nkwanta, Abease, Otuam, Nyanoa, among others, to open new Community Day Schools and students are benefitting from these projects and there are many more of these schools nearing completion.
“We expect that by November 7th we will be able to put at least 70 of these schools into operation. And as I have said, we are currently working on 123 of them.”
Former propaganda secretary and now Communications Officer of the NDC, Solomon Nkansah, recently told Atinka FM that the 2012 presidential election petition which lasted for eight months, frustrated the early completion of the 200 Community Day Senior High Schools promised by President Mahama in 2012.
He claimed that the petition, brought by Nana Akufo-Addo and two others, affected the sources of funding for the projects because international donors who wanted to help were not sure about the president’s legitimacy.
Solomon Nkansah then claimed that between 85 to 100 schools would be completed and handed over to the communities by November this year; and boasted that 11 of the schools in the Volta Region alone were to be commissioned in April when the president toured that region, but that was never the case. But this turned out to be a mere propaganda piece as the president only managed to commission two during the visit.
Statistics show that only about 40% of JHS graduates gain admission into Senior High Schools, because of limited facilities.
The NDC has said the construction of SHSs is part of government’s commitment to fulfill its electoral promise of making secondary education progressively free and said about 313,301 senior high school day students are to benefit from the free SHS policy this academic year.
Initially, the Mahama-led government promised that all day students were exempt from the payment of school fees starting from September this 2015/16 academic year, since they are covered by their ‘progressively free scholarship’ policy, but when it turned out that the same students were supposed to pay over GH¢300, the government made a u-turn to say that it was doing a subvention programme.
The promised subvention turned out to be only GH¢38 per student and even that, the government is currently in arrears over two terms in its first year of implementation.
As if that was not enough, President Mahama, at the 70th anniversary Speech and Prize-Giving Day of the Aburi Girls’ Senior High School in the Eastern Region at the weekend, promised to expand the free SHS policy to cover boarding students in deprived communities.
He announced that the programme would start in August this year.
By William Yaw Owusu