Steve Manteaw, Chairman of the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC), has emphasized that Ghana is capable of funding the free Senior High School (SHS) policy, which is the flagship programme of the current New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration.
According to him, government should consider consolidating public funds with those from scholarship programmes of the Jubilee Partners and GETFund.
This, according to him, would better help track funding for the Free SHS, avoid wastage and help guarantee the sustenance of the programme.
Dr Manteaw noted that the country’s oil and mineral resources must benefit Ghanaians in a more productive way.
He stressed the importance of financing education to develop the human resource base of the country for economic advancement.
“But the modalities for the implementation of the free SHS must be looked at again in order to derive the maximum benefits,” he pointed out.
He mentioned that a country like Uganda started a similar programme in 2007 when its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was $12 billion with a population of 29.9 million.
“But Ghana in 2017 has a GDP of $37.5 with a population of 27.4 million indicating that Ghana is better placed to implement the free SHS programme on a more sustainable basis,” he added.
Dr Manteaw disclosed this at a dialogue on Education Policy in Ghana under the theme: “Sustainable Partnership for Educational Financing: Leveraging National Resource Revenue for a better Educational Infrastructure in Ghana.”
He stressed the need for a cut-off point for admission into SHSs under the programme to leverage existing facilities.
“So the heads of schools should stop converting classrooms into dormitories just to allow every student to stay in boarding house,” he said.
Mr Manteaw pointed out that the double track system must be broadly discussed, adding “Every programme starts with a pilot test, hence the need to proceed with caution.”
He added that the Ghana Education Service (GES) could audit abandoned projects and fix them for use by students rather than concurrently adopting the double track system.
“Parents, on the other hand, must also be made to bear some responsibility in identifiable areas as key stakeholders in education delivery.
“We have to critically consider every decision in order not to compromise quality in the implementation of the programme.”
Joyce Cudjoe, who represented Ghana National Education Campaign Coalition, bemoaned the fact that the coalition was not consulted on the double track system.
She, therefore, called on the government to backtrack and engage all stakeholders for effective education delivery at the second cycle level.
John Dadzie, representative from the Conference of heads of Assisted Private Senior High Schools, stressed that private schools must be given a quota in the intake system.
According to him, the cut–off point was critical to maintaining quality standards to ensure that average students are transferred to the private schools for proper grooming and fine-tuning to get the best out of them for the development of the country.
He said: “We have rooms and are capable of grooming these children; we don’t need the double track system as a country.”
During an open forum, some of the participants called for specialized fields of study as against the many subjects offered by students.
They also indicated that there must be a cut-off point for free entry into public schools to allow the private schools to absorb the rest.
“We believe this would help to grow educational entrepreneurs and serve as a means of job creation,” he noted.