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UNIVERSAL FREE SHS IS HERE TO STAY: A RECORD 1.2 MILLION HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT WILL ENROL IN SEPTEMBER, SAYS AKUFO-ADDO

General News

Beginning next academic year, which starts in September, all three batches of students in Ghana’s public secondary schools, from SHS1 to SHS3, will be beneficiaries of the Free Senior High School (SHS) policy.

Beginning next academic year, which starts in September, all three batches of students in Ghana’s public secondary schools, from SHS1 to SHS3, will be beneficiaries of the Free Senior High School (SHS) policy.

 

“In all, 1.2 million children will be enrolled in our high schools across the country under the policy, making it the largest number of students so enrolled in our history,” President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has announced.

The President was reflecting at the weekend as he delivered the keynote address at the fourth graduation ceremony of the University of Energy and Natural Resources, Sunyani, in the Bono Region.

University admissions

According to President Akufo-Addo, “It is thus inevitable that, from 2020, when the first batch of Free SHS students graduate, our universities and other tertiary institutions will be confronted with the challenge of higher numbers of students seeking admission.”

He explained that in view of this, his government is undertaking a comprehensive programme of expanding infrastructure at the various tertiary institutions to accommodate the larger numbers.

This intervention, the President explained, will provide increased opportunities for young people to further their education, pursue their dreams, and ultimately contribute their quota to Ghana’s development.

The President regretted that several GETFund projects on the UENR campus are at a standstill, putting enormous pressure on the university’s facilities. He noted that various directives to GETFund, dating back to the previous government, to place some of the uncompleted projects at UENR on the Fund’s priority list, have not yielded much fruit.

Things will change

“Chairperson, things will change, and I prefer to let my deeds, not words, do the talking.
“It is not for nothing that the Minister of State for Tertiary Education is here at this ceremony. His presence is intended to be a guarantee of action,” he said.

The President continued, “Whilst we work to address the infrastructural challenges of the university, I am happy to announce that the pledge we made to construct the five kilometres of access roads for the university is being fulfilled.

“A contract worth GHC7.9 million has been awarded to Messrs JOFASM Limited, and the road will be completed in 18 months. The contractor will be on site by the end of this month.”

Kudos

UENR has gone from an initial graduating class of 154 students to 1,100 students in 2019.

As President Akufo-Addo said: “For a university that was only established in 2012, you have done well for yourselves in attempting not only to rub shoulders with the top universities in the country, but also to set yourself apart from others on the continent.”

As a co-chair of the Group of Eminent Advocates for the 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the President expressed his joy at some of the projects being undertaken by the university to help achieve the 17 SDGs.

“With the world confronted with the menace of plastic waste, it is gratifying to note that UENR is at the forefront of developing biodegradable polythene from corn starch,” he said.

The university is assisting in the global effort to deal with the effects of climate change, and is the only institution of higher learning in West Africa to have installed a fire monitoring laboratory, under the Earth Observation Research Innovation Centre, to monitor, detect and predict wildfire and floods in the region.

“It is thus not a surprise that the university has become one of the World Bank’s Centres of Excellence in energy and environmental sustainability in Africa. We can only urge you on to chalk more and more of such feats,” the President said.

Don’t deviate

President Akufo-Addo urged the university authorities not to rest on their oars, but to work harder to “stimulate research in science and technology and become a resource hub, especially in energy and natural resources in Africa”.

He applauded them for the decision to establish a medical school to train doctors not only to serve the three regions of Bono, Bono East and Ahafo, but also the towns and communities along the country’s whole western corridor.

The President however appealed to the university not to deviate from its core mandate of being a natural resource and science and engineering-based university, set up specifically to train the critical manpower required for growth and development of the nation’s energy and natural resource sectors.