September 27, 2013

President John Mahama will cut the sod for the construction of 50 new Senior High Schools in some districts by December this year, Deputy Education Minister Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has announced.

That, according to him, was fulfillment of the governing National Democratic Congress’ 2012 election campaign promise to construct 200 new Senior High Schools by 2016.

Preparatory works relating to the feasibility, selection criteria, design and siting of the projects in beneficiary District Assemblies have all been completed, Mr. Ablakwa said.

He said the Assemblies have met a September 20, deadline for the identification of the specific sites where the schools will be built.

Speaking on the Super Morning Show on Joy FM Thursday, the deputy Minister also announced plans by government to enter into a financial arrangement to fund the projects.

He said this has been necessitated by the pressure on the national budget, due to shortfalls in projected revenue.

“I’m happy to announce that we have received proposal [from a financial institution] which is being studied by the Ministry of Finance. As soon as the go-ahead is given [by the Minister of Finance] H.E the president, will cut the sod in December to begin construction of these schools,” Mr. Ablakwa said.

JOY FM Commended

Mr. Ablakwa commended Joy FM for focussing attention on dilapidated nature of some schools buildings in its broadcasts.

Joy News has over the past few weeks, exposed the deplorable and difficult conditions under which teaching and learning take place at some schools in the country, even including the nation’s capital, Greater Accra.

Mr. Ablakwa conceded that government “is still grappling with ‘Schools under trees’ situation and is doing everything possible to win the fight”.

According to him: “About 60% of schools under trees has been removed and turned into modern classrooms with ultramodern facilities while efforts are being made to tackle the remaining 40%”.

He said although the Ministry of Education gets 30% of the national budget, close to 95% of that is used on paying emoluments and compensations, leaving the Ministry with only 7% for infrastructural development.

A possible measure to address the infrastructural challenges Mr. Ablakwa identified, is to “free the hands of the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) of the pressures of giving scholarships, to enable it concentrate on infrastructural development”.

He appealed to chiefs and opinion leaders to compliment the efforts of government, by maintaining the facilities put in their communities to derive the maximum benefit from them.