Behind the talk of Free Senior High School (SHS) and the success story the government keeps selling to us, is the threat to the smooth running of the schools, because of government’s indebtedness to the schools.
Until the introduction of the free SHS policy, Public Secondary schools, were allowed to collect some fees, including Parents Teacher Association (PTA) dues.
The expenditure profile of schools can be summarized under the following headings;
One core mandatory expenses, example include school fees, feeding fees, and boarding fees, these expenses are the reason why in the past government’s failure to release funds led to the closure of schools in the Northern region.
Secondly, administrative expenses, these include; payment of laborers, teachers who are engaged on part time etc. and thirdly, capital expenditure, it also entails buying of photocopiers, printers, toners, building school blocks and dormitories etc.
Lastly, supplementary expenses such as levies and PTA dues.
Some of these expenses were borne by parents and so whiles schools wait for government to fulfill its part, they are able to run smoothly, until the elephant in the room was introduced (Free SHS).
The policy, like many other policies in this country are well intended, by the implementation, has always been the problem.
This newspaper, is aware of the problems many schools are facing. Heads of Secondary Schools in the country are afraid of victimization and so have chosen to keep quiet about their problems.
The last time government disbursed monies to the schools was early this year and even that, it was to cover only one term and for the second year students.
There is no gainsaying it that the inability for the government to release funds to meet other pressing needs, such as the procurement of consumables, will defeat the purpose of the free SHS.
Food is not all that is needed for the smooth running of the schools.
As a newspaper we are interested more in the quality of the free education than just free education as the schools that are supposedly free are public schools and they produce sophisticated illiterates.