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The recent tour by the Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo-Maafo to some senior high schools in the Ashanti Region was a welcome initiative of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government.

Not only was the exercise an eye opening one but was hugely purposeful since it afforded government officials the opportunity to learn at close range the implementation as well as the challenges facing the roll out of the non-fee paying educational policy.

During the tour, and in every school the team visited, one could see broad smiles in the faces of parents who had taken pains to come to the respective schools to accompany and ensure their Children get admission.

Similarly, students who had come on campus to verify their names and register for academic studies were seen visibly happy to undergo the process required for their entry.

At the visit to Juaben Senior High School, one of the famous mixed schools in Ashanti, the huge crowd of students alone could force a smile from a hungry soul since the over 1, 900 first year students had neatly dressed up at the assembly hall undergoing an orientation course school authorities had designed for ‘freshers’ as they are infamously called.

We encountered similar experiences throughout the two day tour as the team consisting of Mr Alan Kyeremanteng, the Trade Minister, Hon Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, the Majority Leader and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Hon Joe Osei Wusu, First Deputy Speaker in Parliament and MP for Bekwai as well as Cecilia Abena Dapaah, Aviation Minister, Simon Osei Mensah, Ashanti Regional Minister and Elizabeth Abena Dapaah, Deputy Ashanti Regional Minister.

However, the Senior Minister’s team despite the good testimony parents told them also encountered some pressing challenges in the schools visited with accommodation being the most urgent need.

The team realized that almost every school had a deficit in the spaces available for students seeking for boarding status. This challenge, worryingly, had forced the school administrators to make some of the students who under normal circumstances should have earned boarding accommodation to opt for day students status. 

Some of the schools, apart from the accommodation challenge due to the increasing number of fresh year students also complained about inadequate kitchen staff.  This, the headmasters asserted was a pressing challenge since the students no matter their status as day or boarding had been given the opportunity by the free shs policy to have free meals in school.

We at GO, by the aforementioned challenges, believe that the implementation of this policy could be greatly enhanced if government applies all efforts in providing more accommodation facilities in all public senior high schools so as to make life more bearable for students who attend school from long distances.

We, therefore, perfectly associate ourselves with the point which was made during the tour by the senior minister that the boarding school system needed to strengthened and more spaces be provided for it since that has helped to shape the mindsets of people by enabling them to co-exist peacefully with fellow mates no matter one’s ethnic, cultural or religious backgrounds.

Story by Michael Ofosu-Afriyie, Kumasi

2017-09-26 @18:08:50

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