General News of Fri, 28 Jul 20170
Streamline communication on Free SHS - Kofi Bentil to government
The Vice President of policy think-tank IMANI-Ghana has urged the Akufo-Addo government to release a paper containing all the implementation programs and parameters on its flagship Free Senior High School (SHS) policy.
Kofi Bentil is worried that a major policy affecting the whole country, which happens to be the biggest policy of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) campaign that elected President Nana Akufo-Addo should be handled anyway.
Although he has no doubts that there is a political will for the policy to take off this September, he believes streamlining government communication on it will reduce the as inconsistencies when public officials speak about the policy.
“Everybody will speak from that sheet. It looks like there is a bit of double talk and it is worrying. In the past we all thought it was going to be Free SHS all through the four years,” he said.
According to him, IMANI suggested to government that financing the four years would be costly so the first year students must rather be considered for starters.
“It turned out the government came out to say that we are doing it only for the first year which limited the cost but that information came piece meal.
“Later we also heard about day students and how they were going to be treated with the Education Minister revealing that they will get a meal each,” he noted.
Mr Bentil believes there is an inequity between boarding and day students in other areas apart from the meal issue “as I am hearing something about a four-year scholarship.”
He claims another Minister has said Ghana’s economy cannot support the policy adding to the inconsistencies relating to the policy.
The governing party's campaign promise has been criticized by political critics and some economists, who said it will drain the country’s resources.
Critics claim the economy is not in the best shape to cushion the programme which will need an estimated ¢3.6 million yearly.
At the Information Ministry’s first Meet-the-Press encounter Thursday, the Education Minister said the state of Ghana’s economy will not delay the implementation of the programme.
Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh said “bad economy” has been part of the country’s governance since independence adding even years which were touted as Ghana’s best years ever were not good enough.
Former Defense Minister and leading member of the NPP, Dr Kwame Addo Kufuor has also cautioned government to close the loopholes in the areas of finance and quality before implementing the programme.
Although he admitted the policy is good, he said it will require a year or two incubation period before rolling it out.
The government has allocated the amount of ¢400 million for the implementation of the programme in its 2017 budget.
Unfazed by voices of critics, the Education Minister said free SHS will start in September 2017 as scheduled.
“For those who don’t believe or do say we should wait or anybody who has any information that the President has not got the economy can submit it to the President,” he said.
But Mr Bentil believes "in order to settle the populace at large government must release one major paper and make it clear what it is going to do end to end. If there are amendments, it will be easier to digest and process."
He said he is getting worried that every time there is talk about the policy, new information is released.