General News of Mon, 20 Feb 20175
Scrap SADA, LEAP, MASLOC for 'Free SHS' - Group
The Government of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo must scrap some social intervention programmes and replace them with the free senior high school programme, the National Media Centre for Social and Economic Justice, has said.
According to the group, the Free SHS programme is one of the most powerful interventions that will aide all Ghanaians irrespective of their status in the society.
A statement released and signed by Philip Boafo, Corporate Communications Manager of the group, said: “When the 1992 Constitution obliged us to introduce progressive free education, it had not anticipated that it was going to take the country over twenty years to implement the freeness of secondary education. We believe the free education policy can be achieved in every form and shape. If Uganda with an economy of $12billion rolled out Free SHS 10 years ago, then Ghana's $37billion is more than able.”
“Basic education is a right we owe to our children, regardless of their socio-economic background, and therefore same must be paid for by all citizenry. We are aware that the government of Nana Akufo-Addo did promise in their party’s electioneering campaign, to reduce taxes paid by citizens. In our view such a reduction in taxes is not necessary if we are going to implement such a bold and expensive free education policy.
“In the view of the National Media Center, the time has come for us to re-look at some of the many social intervention policies, and to stop many of them for the sake of the free education we are about to introduce. We do not see any more important policy than our children being able to go to school for free up to the secondary school level. Non-universal social intervention initiatives such as LEAP, MASLOC, SADA, and the yet-to-be introduced Zongo Development Fund, have all become centres of waste, cronyism and corruption, that seem to be serving partisan purposes only.
“It is estimated that 40% of LEAP beneficiaries use the money for educational needs. About 50% of Junior High School (JHS) graduates become SHS dropouts largely because of funds and accessibility. This means the greatest investment we can make in the future of our children is in education.”
The statement added: “Government should not shy away from utilizing any available fund, to implement the Free Secondary School policy. For instance, the Petroleum Revenue Management Act, 2011 (Act 815) established the Heritage Fund which is to serve as an endowment for future generation. The government should not be afraid to resort to it as a source of funding the Free Education policy. For us, Heritage means Future and Future means Education. Free education is the only sure way that every citizen can benefit from the oil money.
“Our concern, however, is the feeding component of the free SHS policy. We believe that the feeding component of the free education policy may open the policy up for abuse, aggravated corruption, and parental irresponsibility, and we therefore urge government to implement the Free Secondary school policy without the feeding component of the program.
“The Free SHS policy should not be looked at as a political policy, but a collective national agenda. Government should invest heavily in quality and accessible education; build more educational facilities, increase capitation grant, provide teaching and learning materials, and maintain a highly motivated teachers.
“We believe that the only viable and truly genuine and fair social intervention programs that can take Ghana to prosperity are the Capitation Grant, the Free Secondary School Policy, and the National Health Insurance Program. Government should therefore not be afraid to stop any other social invention programs, in order to make the above programs well funded, efficient and effective.”