The Minority in Parliament has accused the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, of putting “impediments” in the way of the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) in getting enough funding for the putting up of infrastructure in senior high schools to meet the increasing demands as a result of the introduction of Free SHS in 2017.
“The truth is that the Minister of Finance has put a number of impediments in the way of GETFUND such that access to the facility has become very difficult,” the Minority said in a statement on Tuesday, April 6, expressing fear about a possible crisis with the Free SHS Policy.
“The Minister of Finance also appointed a Special Purpose Vehicle such that all certificates due for payment and were duly vetted by the Technical and Accounts Units of GETFUND have to be vetted again by an audit firm solely appointed by the Minister, causing so much delay in the payment of over GH¢800 million to contractors with the money being locked up with the Bank of Ghana,” the statement issued by the Ranking Member on the Education Committee, Peter Nortsu-Kotoe, said.
The Akatsi North Member of Parliament expressed worry about the situation and stated that “if nothing urgent is done regarding infrastructure challenges in our schools, we would be confronted with a bigger catastrophe in this era of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
This comes after the Ghana Education Service (GES) postponed the reopening of schools for Form 3 students in SHSs.
The decision was taken after the Conference of Heads of Assisted Senior High Schools (CHASS) suggested a delay in reopening for one batch of students as there could be congestion in schools.
“As a result of the challenges that we anticipated and drew the attention of the management of the GES, they have come to agree with us and have now set a new date for the reopening of Form 3s,” the National President of CHASS, Alhaji Yakubu Abubakar, told TV3‘s Ibrahim Abubakar in an interview on Tuesday, April 6.
But Mr Nortsu-Kotoe said these problems would not have arisen if the New Patriotic Party (NPP) had not rushed in a bid to fulfil its manifesto promise in 2017.
“It was in this direction that the NDC government under His Excellency John Dramani Mahama in 2015/16 introduced the Progressively Free Secondary Education programme with the admission of 320,488.
“This approach was to ensure that government takes steps to expand infrastructure and provide the necessary amenities with time, in order to forestall the challenges the implementation of the programme would have brought.
“The mass introduction in the 2017/18 academic year, therefore, in itself, is not a bad idea but its implementation was not well thought through and fell short of achieving the desired goals.”
He noted that the programme since its introduction has been plunged into chaos “and glaring challenges that were foreseen by many other stakeholders”.
He called for urgent steps by the Akufo-Addo-led government to ensure that the challenges are solved in order to meet the goals of the Constitution and Sustainable Development Goal four in providing quality education.