General News of Fri, 28 Jul 20177
Government ‘unprepared’ for free SHS programme – NDC MP
Government’s plans to roll out the free Senior High School programme in September might not see the light of day if it fails to adequately prepare ahead of its implementation, Minority Spokesperson for Education, Peter Nortsu-Kotoe has cautioned.
The Minister of Education, Matthew Opoku Prempeh had indicated that Ghana’s economic challenges will not prevent the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government from effectively implementing its Free Senior High School education policy.
“Ghana has never been a rich country but we have gone on the path way of offering free secondary education to people since independence. Ghana is not going to be a rich country today but we will still offer free secondary education to all those who secondary education in the public school.”
“That is life. When you decide your priorities and you put your money where your priorities lie. Those who want ignorance will tell us it’s not sustainable so should we stop? Those who love ignorance will tell you if it is not sustainable, stop. Those who love education will strive to make it worthwhile…,” the Minister said during a media encounter on Thursday.
Government has said it will spend a total amount of GHS400 million to implement the start of 2017/2018 academic year.
Under the free SHS policy, beneficiaries will not have to pay admission fees, library fees, science centre fees, no computer lab fees, no examination fees and no utility fees, according to the government.
The free SHS policy will also cover agricultural, vocational and technical institutions at the secondary school level.
Mr. Nortsu-Kotoe , who is also the Member of Parliament for Akatise North however believes 400 million is very minimal to support the various interventions stated above.
“We realise that the Minister is trying to bite more than he can chew and if we do not take time, we may not be able to implement the programme as best as he is thinking. Even at the time that they approved the budget, we told that them that the 400 million was not enough.It was not going to meet the expected expenditures.”
Mr. Nortsu-Kotoe also highlighted other threats the programme might face in the future if finally implemented.
“He [Minister] talked about free meals at the school. We are worried about a number of issues. Most of them are day schools and they do not have facilities for teaching or dining hall. Where are they going to prepare the meals under hygienic conditions and then eating the meals under hygienic conditions? Those things have not been taken on board.”
The free SHS policy had been a major promise by the Akufo-Akufo government during run up to December 7, 2012, and 2016 general elections.