Opinions of Wed, 22 Feb 20172

I’m for Free SHS for all!

“Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another”— G. K. Chesterton

How fast time flies! It was a little over four decades ago when Yours truly first set foot on this earth. I vividly remember my childhood days in Kusuntu Line, a suburb of Nima in the nation’s capital. All too soon, I’m a fully grown man and married with children.

As I pondered over my childhood days, lyrics of Bernice Offei’s ‘Life Is Too Short’ kept on ringing in my medulla: “It was but yesterday you were a baby. But so soon you’re growing, too. And before you know it you’ve become a lady. Or a man with children, too.”

Even as children, we were not oblivious of being underprivileged. The few fortunate ones among us took the little opportunity to remind us of how underprivileged we were. Notable among them were three brothers who came from an affluent home in the deprived area. Theirs was the only house with pipe-borne water in an area of over two hundred and fifty houses.

The three boys were fortunate to have had parents who left them numerous properties. Two big houses, containing 24 single rooms and a same number of chamber and hall rooms each, a cattle ranch with close to 1,000 cows, two Albion trucks and a host of others. We were all envious of their privileged situation.

Three decades on, two of the three brothers are not only paupers but also hooked on drugs. The other brother, who was lucky to avoid using drugs, is the only one married among them. One thing is, however, very clear: The heritage left by their parents had long fizzled into thin air.

Ironically, those of us who envied the three brothers are now doing far better in life than they are doing now. Most of us now live in our own houses with our wives and children. We also have stable jobs and a brighter future than they have.

What made the difference was EDUCATION. Despite all the properties their parents left them, the three lacked formal education. On the other hand, our parents left us nothing, but education. The result speaks louder than any argument one could espouse. It is now more than obvious that the three brothers were not that fortunate, after all!

Abusuapanin, my point is that education is the best of all legacies one can leave for his children. It is the reason I fully support President Nana Akufo-Addo’s “free SHS for all” policy. It is the policy that can truly help in eradicating poverty in the nation.

I’ve heard many pessimistic views about the policy. They say the state cannot afford the huge cost. Yet, those were the people who could not find their voices when the erstwhile Ogwanfunu government was sanctioning all manner of “create, loot and share” schemes. Sometimes I’m tempted to believe that such people do not mean well for this country.

I’ve also heard many others say free SHS shouldn’t be for everyone, but the underprivileged. They argue that those who can pay must be made to pay, in order not to overburden the state. They therefore seem to suggest that there should be a mechanism that would be able to sieve the rich from the poor.

But I ask; how? How can we have a valid mechanism to determine those really in need? How can that be done in Kwame Okro’s Ghana where the rich and powerful always pull strings in their own favour? How can that be done in a land where the deprived are always preyed upon by rich predators?

You do remember the Cocobod scholarship scheme meant for the children of cocoa farmers, don’t you? It is an open secret that majority of the beneficiaries of the scheme had parents who had never handled the cutlass before. It is obvious that they conjured and manufactured documents to make their children benefit from the scheme. Ironically, the poor cocoa farmer had to go through hell to secure a scholarship for his child.

Some have further argued that only students from the public JHS system should be allowed to enjoy free scholarship, at the detriment of those coming from the private JHS system. The basis of the argument is that parents of students coming from the private JHS system are assumed to be rich and vice-versa.

The argument is laughable because it cannot be the reality. I know, because I’m one, that many parents take their children to private first cycle schools not because they are rich, but because they want their children to have the benefit of quality education. For we all know the public first cycle schools (cyto) produce anything but quality education. Only Heavens know the trouble some parents go through before paying their children’s fees. Massa, it is “nsem pii”!

I’m for free SHS for all, no matter the cost. I’m for free SHS for all because I know the alternative is more costly. I’m for free SHS for all because I’ve on several occasions seen many bright futures turned into bitter and dark realities due to lack of finance to pay for education. I’m for free SHS for all because it is a stepping stone to achieving higher academic dreams.

I’ve said this before and I would repeat it here. President Akufo-Addo is crowing because he has seen the light. And only roosters crow when they see the light. So let’s all rally behind the rooster because it is the dawn of a new day.

See you next week for another interesting konkonsa, Deo volente!

Columnist: Daily Guide

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