General News of Sat, 25 Nov 201722

Scrapping Free SHS would be ‘politically suicidal’ – Afenyo-Markin

The Member of Parliament (MP) for Effutu, Alexander Afenyo-Markin, has suggested that it would be unwise for any political party to consider scrapping the Free SHS policy as such a move would not endear it to Ghanaian voters.

According to him, given the level of impact the policy had made on parents who have been relieved of the financial burden of their wards, any party that attempts to cancel the policy would face a backlash from the populace.

“It will be suicidal for any political party, winning power tomorrow, to attempt a form of repudiation abandoning this laudable initiative. Although people criticise the Free SHS, in reality, they are benefitting,” Afenyo-Markin said on Eyewitness News on Friday.

He was responding to concerns that had been raised that the policy could be scrapped should another political party come into power.

A Senior Law lecturer at the University of Ghana Law School, Dr. Raymond Atuguba, asked the Akufo-Addo government to pass a legislation making the Free Senior High School policy binding on future administrations.

“Let’s say that if NDC [National Democratic Congress] wins 2020 or 2024, you know they can cancel free SHS, you know that? What sense will that make? But right now without a binding national development plan, they can do that. With a binding national development plan, once you put in the plan that every government must work progressively towards free SHS, then no government can [scrap the policy].”

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“…and we even added that before a government do that, a citizen can go to the supreme court and stop them,” the lecturer added.

However, Afenyo-Markin sought to calm these fears stating that “there’s a provision in the Constitution which guarantees free education for every citizen” suggesting that a specific legislation will not be necessary.

Politicizing education

This isn’t the first time there have been concerns about the possible politicisation of policies in the educational sector.

The NPP administration, under President John Kufuor, introduced the four-year Senior High School programme in 2007.

However, the NDC reverted to the 3-year system after it regained power in 2009.

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However, the Akufo-Addo government has indicated it is considering extending the length of secondary education to four years again.

The Minister of Planning, Professor Gyan Baffour, in September 2017, said the government was monitoring the three-year SHS system to inform a possible review back to four years.

The implementation of the Free SHS policy has also come under fire from members of the opposition who have pointed at the challenges faced by the government as a sign that the programme was ill-fated.

The Minority Leader in Parliament, Haruna Iddrisu said: “It is manifested gargantuan failure and our concerns are that we will not sit down for him to jeopardize our youngsters and the future of our country.”

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