General News of Wed, 13 Sep 20174
Free SHS is sustainable - Ishmael Ashitey
Greater Accra Regional Minister Ishmael Ashitey has refuted claims that the flagship education policy under the current NPP administration lacks sustainability.
The Minister who was speaking on Happy FM’s ‘Epa Hoa Daben’ show said government was poised to see the successful implementation of the policy hence, allocation of funds would not be a challenge.
The Minority in Parliament on Monday at a press briefing said the Free SHS programme is not sustainable.
The Minority in the statement said: “First, we have discovered that the NPP Government disingenuously refused to adjust this year’s GES approved fees as has been the tradition every year. This tradition in fixing fees annually factors inflation and ensures that quality is not compromised.”
“The NPP Government surreptitiously used last academic years GES approved fees of 1,022.20 for boarders and GHS 560 for day students in order that it can beat down the actual cost of Free SHS. A trend analysis we have conducted over the last five years reveals that this year's approved fees should not have been less than GHS 1,320 for boarders and GHS 715 for day students.”
“We have also discovered that contrary to its public posture that the Government does not intend to leave any child behind, the projection of the Akufo-Addo cabinet is that only 85% of SHS students will accept their placements and turn up for school. In other words, the NPP Government has made provision in its budget for only 362,781 SHS students entering first year. Therefore per current placement figures, Government has made no arrangements for 62,711 students".
"The above conduct by the NPP Government coupled with their inability to identify a clear and reliable funding source for their Progressively Free SHS, clearly undermines its sustainability and the survival of quality SHS education in Ghana.’’
But responding to the claims, Ishmael Ashitey said, “we will look at the mobilization of funds from the markets, everywhere, from our petroleum sector, everywhere monies are being wasted, we will bring them on board and use it.’’
He said, government will channel enough resources towards the implementation to make it sustainable despite claims by the opposition.
“That is the dream of the president. It is leadership and a matter of choice. You can decide to use your resources to purchase cars and ride in them and someone has also decided to use the same resources to implement free SHS. Is a matter of choice.’’
The Minority has not been consistent with their position because they keep on shifting the goal post, he stated.
‘’They said we could not start the policy, but we have started. Now they have turned the argument saying that it is not sustainable. It will become sustainable as we go along. They will see it,’’ he said.
Hon. Ashitey, when asked whether the policy would not break the economy, said no and insisted "enough work has been done before the implementation was launched. It will not break the economy".
‘’If you have a very educated, learned, and advanced Human Resource, it will generate a lot into your economy and so, this forms part of the economy…We have thrown our bread onto the waters and we will use it to get more fishes.’’
The implementation of the policy he noted shows that the NPP is not a government that takes people for granted because ‘’we always deliver on our promises’’.
“We are a government that is committed to taking good care of our people…What we are doing is part of restructuring the economy,’’ he concluded.