The Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo-led government’s Free Senior High School (SHS) programme will deprive thousands of children the opportunity to enjoy basic education since cost remains a major challenge at that level, former Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Ekow Spio-Garbrah, has said.Dr Spio-Garbrah, who is speculated to be eyeing the presidency argues that government should have rather focused on ensuring that the Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) is achieved first before rolling out the Free SHS programme.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Class News’ presidential correspondent, Kwesi Parker-Wilson, Dr Spio-Garbrah described the situation as problematic and charged government to comply with the constitutional provisions of FCUBE instead of pursuing the current Free SHS.
He said: “My concern is that the new government has purported to make Senior High School freer than it was by eliminating certain cost…but the effect of the senior high school free policy is all about money. By allocating the freedom at the higher level, you are actually depriving those at the lower level of what ought to have been free, and this is a constitutional provision that education should progressively be made freer and freer.
“You start from primary one and make that hundred per cent free, then you go to primary two where you can make it 95 per cent free, then you go to primary three and maybe 90 per cent free, that is the concept.
“But if you start making senior high school free, whether 90 per cent or 100 per cent, but the same money of the people of Ghana is not enough to go around, the effect is that, the primary school that is primary one to junior high level which ought to be free, is no longer free. More than three million Ghanaians in basic education are paying one or more fees and this is the problem of Ghana’s educational system because this means that many of them might not even be able to finish their primary education or their JHS to even enjoy the so-called Free SHS, and that is the tragedy of that story.”