National Democratic Congress [NDC] Member of Parliament for Ashaiman, Ernest Norgbey, wants Ministers of state and their deputies in the Akufo-Addo administration to contribute at least 10% of their salaries into the Voluntary Education Fund to support the government’s Free SHS programme.
According to him, the contribution will help raise enough money to address some of the pertinent challenges facing the implementation of the programme in various schools across the country.
Speaking to Citi News, Mr. Norgbey said the ministers must take a cue from the supposed 10% contribution by ministers in the previous John Mahama government towards the construction of CHPS compounds, to promote healthcare delivery especially in rural areas of the country.
The creation of the Voluntary Education Fund was announced in the 2018 budget by Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, to among other things raise additional revenue for the Free SHS programme.
But Mr. Norgbey believes Akufo-Addo’s ministers must demonstrate leadership by making their personal contributions to the fund.
“I expect the 110 ministers also to contribute 10% of their salaries into this Free SHS so that our children who are in SHS will have quality Free SHS. If they are able to do that, we are talking about GH¢2 billion a month….If they also set aside 10% of their salaries towards the Free SHS, it will be a laudable idea for all of us,” he said.
Free SHS fund
The implementation of the free Senior High School (SHS) policy recently suffered some setbacks as some schools are faced with the challenge of inadequate infrastructure.
Government is expected to spend close to GHc1 billion on the beneficiaries of the free SHS programme for this academic year, while the figure is expected to shoot up in subsequent years.
Many stakeholders have called on the government to create an avenue for multiple sources of funding for the program to ensure its sustainability. In view of that, the Finance Minister Ken Ofori Atta in the delivery of the government’s 2018 budget statement in parliament, announced that “with the successful launch of the free SHS programme, government received proposals from the public, several of which encourage the establishment of a fund to receive voluntary contributions to support education.
Thankfully, the GETFund Law allows for the setting up of other education-related funds. In 2018, the Ministry will work with GET FUND to set up this education fund to enable Ghanaians to make voluntary contributions to support education.”
You can’t rely on voluntary contributions for Free SHS- Ablakwa
The NDC Member of Parliament for the North Tongu Constituency, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, has already stated that, the government cannot afford to rely on voluntary contributions to fund education, particularly free SHS, as projections for those funds may not materialize.
He said this is an indication that government does not have the funds to properly implement its much-touted programme.
“No country runs public education on just voluntary funds. What if the Fund is not considered attractive and you don’t really get as much as you are expecting. We can’t leave the destiny of our children’s quality education to just a voluntary fund where we don’t really know the projections. You cannot just depend on voluntary funds, you can’t run education that way. You need a concrete plan and you need a well-defined funding source. It’s clear that government is struggling to fund it and struggling to identify a clear funding source.”
Budgetary allocation for Free SHS ‘woefully inadequate’ – Ablakwa
Mr. Okudzeto Ablakwa has also described the government’s budgetary allocation for Free SHS as woefully inadequate to support the programme.
According to him, government would need at least two billion cedis to support Free SHS in 2018, 800 million cedis more than the amount that was allocated to it in the budget.