General News of Fri, 17 Feb 201710
Free SHS: Use ABFA – Expert to govt
If the idea to use the Heritage Fund to finance the Free Senior High School programme would be problematic, the government could fall on other sources such as the Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA) to fund the programme, Dr Joe Asamoah, an energy expert, has said.
According to him, educating today’s children is very critical, hence the need to find ways of financing the programme to give less-privileged Ghanaian children a brighter future.
His comments come amid the current debate over the propriety of government’s intended use of the Heritage Fund to finance the education of students in public senior high schools.
Senior Minister Yaw Osafo Maafo set tongues wagging this week when he indicated at a forum in Accra on Tuesday, February 14 that the Heritage Fund – into which eight per cent of Ghana’s annual oil proceeds is paid – would be used to sustain the programme.
He said: “We have to make an amendment to say that X percent of the heritage fund or the petroleum fund will be used to support second cycle education. If we think that industry require a certain stimulus that will enable jobs to be created and you are creating a job to build Ghana. You can look at it and put in a certain amount. We are [also] looking at agriculture.”
Some stakeholders have expressed dissenting opinions on government’s intention to use the fund, saying the move would defeat the purpose for which the fund was set up – a trust for the unborn generation.
But speaking in an interview with Chief Jerry Forson, host of Ghana Yensom, on Accra100.5FM on Thursday, February 16, Dr Asamoah said: “As we are thinking of tomorrow? We also need to think about today’s children. Education is very critical and so we can use any lawful means to fund education in order to give a brighter future to our children.
“If not Heritage Fund, we can consider the ABFA or other funding sources for the Free SHS."
He further indicated that if the leakages in the system are dealt with, the government would be able to rake in money to partly finance the project.
“The leakages in Ghana is costing the country about GHS4billion and that is seen in the Auditor General’s report, and so when we are able to plug the leakage, we will be able to finance the Free SHS.”