Starrfm.com.gh has found that about 1,274,412 students in schools across the country are getting T-shirts with the Free SHS logo printed on them in bulk.
The Free Senior High School Secretariat in the office of the President is getting the T-shirts.
The cost of getting the shirts hasn’t been made public, but the average cost of printing a T-shirt in Ghana is between Ghc20 and Ghc60 per shirt, depending on the quality and the number of shirts being printed.
The Ministry of Education says that there are 827,193 students in the second and third year of SHSs at the moment.
So far this school year, the Ministry says that about 447,219 first-year students have signed up.
Using an average printing cost of Ghc30 per T-shirt, the government is spending about Ghc38,232,360 ($4,779,874.08M) on Free SHS T-shirts for the 1,274,412 students who are currently in school.
Kojo Ansah, the Eastern Regional Correspondent for Starr News, has found that 41,215 t-shirts have been given out so far to about 100 public second-cycle institutions in the Eastern region. These institutions include Technical and Vocational Education Training institutions.
Each school got 416 T-shirts at first, but more are on the way and will be given out when they arrive.
But when asked, Asiedu Acheampong, who is the Public Relations Officer for the Ghana Education Service at the Eastern Regional Education Directorate, said he didn’t know that these T-shirts were given to any schools.
He said, “I know about branded cardigans from different schools, but I don’t know about free SHS t-shirts. If you can send me a picture of one and the name of the school where you took it, I’ll look into it.”
Kojo Ansah wasn’t convinced by the PRO’s explanation, so he asked Daniel Ayertey, the Regional Supply Officer at the Regional Directorate of GES, why he was giving out Free SHS-branded T-shirts, which the PRO said GES hadn’t approved. Mr. Ayertey was shocked by the PRO’s claim and called him.
He later said that the t-shirts were given to the students for free by the Free SHS Secretariat at the end of last year.
He said that the region got the first shipment of 41,215 pieces, but because the stores are already full, they gave it to the schools so that they could give it to the students as they saw fit while they waited for the second shipment.
But some headmasters and teachers told Starr News that the printing costs are not free, even though the t-shirts are free for the students.
They said that the cost of making the T-shirts could be used by the government to pay some of the schools’ bills that are behind.
With the double-track system, the average number of students in SHSs has gone from about 800,000 in 2015 to 1.2 million in 2021. This is because of the free SHS policy.
Since its start, the Free SHS program has been paid for by the Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA), which comes from oil revenues, and the Consolidated Fund, which is the general government’s bank account.
But financial problems and delays in getting food to the schools have made it hard for the heads of second-cycle institutions to run the schools smoothly.