General News of Sun, 25 Feb 2018194
Free SHS crippling other sectors – Mahama
Former President John Dramani Mahama has criticised the New Patriotic Party (NPP) for implementing a broad Free Senior High School (SHS) policy in a haste which has resulted in the programme taking all government resources and stifling other developmental projects.
“The problem this government is facing and it is in their own interest, is that, Free Senior High School is absorbing all the fiscal space they have and so almost every money you have, you are having to put it into Free Senior High School. So you can’t pay District Assemblies Common Fund, you can’t pay NHIS (National Health Insurance Scheme), you can’t pay GETFund (Ghana Education Trust Fund), you can’t pay other salaries and things because all your money is going into Free Senior High School,” Mr Mahama said on Saturday, 24 February 2018, during the Unity Walk organised by the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) at Somanya in the Eastern region.
According to him, individuals who cannot meet the financial requirements must be identified and the Free SHS programme designed to meet their needs and “we must adopt a system where those who can afford to pay are able to pay” to free up the burden on the countries resources to be allocated to critical sectors.
“I can afford to pay my son’s Secondary School fees why should you give me free SHS? Identify those who need it and cannot afford to pay and give them bursaries so that they can pay those fees and those who can afford to pay let them go ahead and pay,” he added.
He was concerned that the problems associated with the Free SHS policy will escalate because in subsequent years it will be expanded to cover continuing students and more funds will be needed to sustain the programme.
For him, a stakeholders’ conference and review of the Free SHS programme will “free up space for them to be able to put money into their One-District-One-Factory, One-Village-One-Dam”.
“You don’t put all your money into education alone and when people don’t have water then you say ‘but you have Senior High School’. You put all your money into one thing and when people say they don’t have electricity then you say ‘you have Senior High School’. You put all your money into one thing and when people say they don’t have food then you say ‘you have Senior High School"
Saturday's Unity Walk in Somanya is the 5th in the series after similar exercises were held in the Northern, Greater Accra, Central and Western regions.