With the implementation of the Free Senior High School Policy, government will, by the end of 2019, scrap the northern scholarship intervention and replace it with “a more enhanced benefit and more comprehensive package,” Registrar of the Scholarship Secretariat, Kingsley Agyemang, hinted at a news conference in Tamale on Tuesday.
Northern Scholarship was a deliberate colonial era policy instituted to bridge the educational development gap between the south and the north of the country. The policy package includes feeding grants and final examination fees for beneficiaries.
Reforms have, however, reduced the package to now cover only feeding grants which are always released and paid under intense pressure, strikes and street protests by parents, students, teachers and Civil Society campaigners.
Government has always delayed releasing the feeding grants to schools in the three regions in the North. The delays have affected academic schedules and in some cases interrupted teaching and learning.
There have been fears the policy has reached a brink of extinct and may be replaced totally with the Free Senior High School which the Registrar had earlier dismissed, but admitted in a later interview with Starr News.
Mr. Agyemang said the Northern Scholarship policy would now be valid to only continuing students and would be rescinded in the next two years, when the Free High School Policy is fully running.
“The Northern Scholarship was just feeding grants and payment of exams registrations. Now, we are going to have a more comprehensive package, so it means that the Northern scholarship, after two academic years from now, 2019 and 2018, would give way for the full implementation, mainstream of the Free SHS policy,” he confirmed.
The Registrar was in the Northern region to monitor second cycle schools in order to ascertain intake capacities and gauge readiness towards the Free SHS Policy which starts this month – just some six days away.
He also said funds for the implementation of the Free Senior High School Programme were available and would be released to schools who shall satisfy all requirements.
According to him, 20 percent of the funds promised by government for the implementation of the policy would only be released to schools which will satisfy all demands, including presenting a bank account details.
He explained that the demand was to discourage “moral hazards” where heads of schools would be able to manipulate systems and present tempered figures for payment.
“The students need to report and the capacity check really conducted, other than that, for instance, to take Tamasco, let’s say we know their capacity for first year is 700 students out of this 700, how many of this 700 students really reported? We need to get that feedback from the school before we will be able to pay.
”If we don’t get that feedback from the school, they would be creating what we call moral hazards. It means that people would have the tendency to ‘brokoto’ the system such that we will go just by the capacity and not the actual numbers of students who have reported.”