General News of 2014-03-31

PPP drags gov't to court over FCUBE

Months after winning a historic election petition challenge, the governing National Democratic Congress will soon be heading back to the Supreme Court to litigate a case of violation of the country's laws on free education brought against it by the Progressive People's Party (PPP).

The Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom led party is convinced the governing NDC has failed to implement the constitutional obligation of providing Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) to the citizenry and out of political convenience has rather sought to compound the problem with a promise to implement a free Senior High School policy.

The PPP is seeking seven reliefs, including a declaration on the true and proper interpretation of the 12 year period within which the FCUBE programme would have been fully implemented.

Article 25 of the 1992 Constitution stipulates; (1) "All persons shall have the right to equal educational opportunities and facilities and with a view to achieving the full realisation of that right -

(a) Basic education shall be free, compulsory and available to all;

(b) Secondary education in its different forms, including technical and vocational education, shall be made generally available and accessible to all by every appropriate means, and in particular, by the progressive introduction of free education."

The Constitution gave a 12 year period (1993-2005) within which FCUBE would have been executed.

The PPP is convinced successive governments have failed to honour the dictates of the constitution.

The party is therefore seeking to have government compelled by the court to ensure that every child enjoys free basic education.

The General Secretary of the PPP Kofi Asamoah later told Joy News' Evans Mensah on Top Story they are heading to court to ensure government does not toy with the country's education.

He argued government is obliged under the laws of the country to make basic education free to every child of school going age.

Mr Asamoah is distressed that government having failed to carry out a mandatory FCUBE policy would rather announce the beginning of a new policy-Free SHS- which according to him is more difficult to implement.

Whilst the constitution talks of free education both at the basic and tertiary levels, Kofi Asamoah maintained free education at the basic level is non-negotiable.

He wondered why government, in haste would announce a progressively free education at the SHS level when it has failed to implement the FCUBE.

He accused government of "playing politics" with the country's education. A member of the government legal team Abraham Amaliba expressed surprise at the decision by the PPP to go to court on the issue.

According to him there is already a pronouncement on Article 25 with the Supreme Court judges ruling that even though they agree that free education is a guaranteed right, it is subject to the availability of resources.

He said the PPP is jumping the gun by filing a writ at the Supreme Court when the government has not even began implementing the progressive free SHS.

Meanwhile, a legal practitioner Samson Lardy-Ayenini has said the case to which Amaliba referred to is inconclusive and cannot be used as basis to rubbish the writ filed by the PPP.