General News of Mon, 20 Feb 201726

Free SHS to cost $1.2 billion a year – Kofi Bentil

The Vice President of IMANI Ghana, Mr. Kofi Bentil has disclosed to GhOne TV that the free Senior High School Program will cost government 1.2 billion dollars a year.

This postulation according to him stems out of a number of extensive researches that IMANI Ghana has done on the free SHS program.

Although, he acknowledged that the free SHS program is doable, he also admitted that it will be an opportunity cost for Ghana.

“The free SHS is doable but it means that Ghana would have to cut down on a number of things to roll out this program. But the question is what do we cut? Government must cancel some social intervention programs like the LEAP, GYEEDA, MASLOC among others depending on its priority areas to facilitate the free SHS. We have to also cut down on corruption, tax evasions and deal with all leakages in the system to fund the free SHS,” Mr. Bentil explained.

Mr. Bentil recognized that Ghana has what it takes to get the free SHS program running but ruled out the use of the heritage fund and expressed excitement that the Finance Minister, Hon. Ken Ofori Atta has retreated on that consideration.

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However, he recommended the free SHS program should be progressive as lumping up all the other components together for a full start could pose a challenge.

“I believe this program must be progressively free. For example, we can start with SHS 1 for the time being and graduate to the other levels but l don’t think it should cover boarding for now,” he added.

In his opinion, if government does not pull up a tight plan to sustain the program it might get stalled along the way.

Discussing the funding of the free SHS on ‘State of Affairs’ on GHOne TV, the Project Officer, Civil Society Platform on Oil and Gas, Mr. Chideze Ezekiel also indicated the use of the heritage fund for the fee SHS policy was unlawful and defeats the purpose for its establishment.

He also recommended citizen consultation or engagement on how the program will be funded so that the will of the people will not be subverted.

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“After all, the president said in his inaugural speech that we should be citizens not spectators. So we need to open the source of funding for this program to a national debate for a consensus to be reached for all stakeholders to be happy,” Mr. Chideze argued.

He also advised government to graduate the free SHS program from one level to the other while giving serious consideration to access and quality.

Both guest on the show, lauded the free SHS policy and urge government not to follow due process to make the program sustainable.

Source: Enerst Lartey

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