Ghana’s Free SHS: Study Reveals Excessive Spending on Senior High School Students

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A comprehensive study conducted by Africa Education Watch, a prominent educational civil society organization, has shed light on the economic dynamics surrounding the Free Senior High School (SHS) program in Ghana

The findings underscore a notable disparity between the government’s expenditures and the financial burden borne by parents.


According to the report, the government’s average spending per student for boarding schools was GHS 1,147, with a slightly lower figure of GHS 1,107 for day students. In contrast, parents were found to spend significantly more, with GHS 2,477 allocated for prospectuses in boarding schools and an additional GHS 4,000 on personal items during the 2021–2022 academic year.

During a conference on education financing in Accra, Mr. Divine Kpe, Senior Programs Officer at Africa Education Watch, presented these insightful observations. The report, titled “The Financial Burden of the Free SHS Policy and Implications for Equitable Access to Education,” delved into the government’s costs by analyzing budgetary allocations and expenditures from 2017–18 to 2022–23.

The report disclosed an alarming 38 percent increase in the prices of prospectuses since the initial implementation of the policy. Furthermore, it highlighted that parents of day students spent GHC 5,507, surpassing the government’s spending of GHS 1,107. Financial constraints, as outlined in the report, contributed to a 15 percent failure of candidates to fulfill their admission requirements for the 2022–2023 academic year.

To address these challenges, the report recommends a strategic approach where the Ministry of Education focuses on children from the poorest households, utilizing data from the LEAP program. This targeted strategy aims to alleviate the financial burden on parents, allowing the government to cover the complete cost of secondary education for students from low-income households.

In the quest for improved policy implementation, the report also suggests that the Ministry of Finance enhance the disbursement of funds in alignment with the policy’s objectives, implementation arrangements, and cash flow projections.


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