Some Senior High School (SHS) girls on vacation have drifted southwards from the northern regions to work as head porters popularly known as Kayayei in some of the busiest markets in the Ashanti Regional capital as Christmas approaches, MyNewsGh.com reports.
Though their fees are fully catered for by the government under the Free SHS policy, the girls say they have been forced back into the markets to make some cash during the long break since their parents are unable to level up for them in terms of some basic needs like “food”.
“Because of my practicals, I’m to carry ‘paa o paa’ to buy the things for my practicals”, one 17-year old girl who said she was a home economics student of the Walewale SHS said.
Others said they were students of the Savelugu SHS, Wulugu SHS and Kalisco SHS.
Some of the girls who spoke with MyNewsGh.com in a special report said they “hope to save enough to make the trip back home and have some money to buy some basic when the Green Track resumes on January 5, 2020”.
Schools under the Double Track System run a semester calendar, such that while one track is in school for 81 days (either Gold or Green), the other would be on a 41-day vacation.
The Ministry of Education has said under the Double Track System “contact hours between teacher and student will increase, enabling teachers to have more time to complete the syllabus”.
The Free SHS has been lauded as a masterstroke to address the financial challenges that kept most of Ghanaian teens out of school; government says up to 1.2 million Ghanaian students are currently benefitting from the initiative.
In May this year, one of the most revered chiefs in the NorthEast region said the policy has helped in reducing the number of girls who became Kayayei (head porters) from his area, the Mamprugu Moaduri District.
The Paramount Chief of Yagaba Traditional Area, Naa Sugru Wuni Mumuni, said the free SHS initiative “will forever go down in the history of this country as the most people-centered policy that helped in alleviating poverty in this country”, when he met President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
“The Free SHS has helped in reducing ‘kayayei’ [head porters] in Mamprugu Moagduri, because your government takes care of school fees, and students do not need to travel down south to engage in menial jobs in order to enable them pay their fees,” the Chief added.