Nana Akufo-Addo
Nana Akufo-Addo

The free education policy from all indication will be taking key centre stage in this electioneering campaign. Whoever wins the argument will benefit massively from the elections. So far the arguments have centred on “COST”, which is fine but we need to go further than the cost aspect of the proposed policy.

No one in Ghana will not like free education even to the University levels; however the practicality of it and the allocation of the available resources is where the question of cost is being battled.

NPP seems to suggest that those who think implementation of the totally free education at the secondary is not feasible now believe in mediocrity.

So far NPP’s argument has centred on cost and the promise that they will find the money through

  • Growth

  • Efficient management of the economy and

  • New sources of money

To fund the policy,

On growth, they talk about the oil and other resources:

From our minerals – Ghana according records makes less than 5% from its resources.

On the oil, they are not telling us if they will invest all the oil money into education which will be against even the law on how to manage the oil revenue. Besides, the percentage they left Ghana with in the oil contracts are not enough to sustain totally free education even for the next 15years.

On efficient management of the economy: We need to push the issue of the budget deficit the left Ghana with, how even the TOR recovery revenue was used to pay journalist, how they left a debt of 3.5billion owed to contractors, how the miss used resources during the Ghana @ 50 some of those decisions now resulting in judgement debts being paid. – IMF and World Bank records will be helpful. How they had to sell GT to keep the economy afloat.

On efficient management of resources again, we all know how much NPP wanted to give to Kufuor when he was leaving office – that cannot be classified as efficient management of the countries resources.

Another fact: The quantum spending on education has been increased year on year since Prof Mills assumes office compared to what they did.

On new sources of money!

  • One of their communication team members and a spoke person on education policy – Okatakyie Kwame Poku Agyemang, said on the Political Searchlight that, they will use Eurobonds to fund education. – This we all know the percentages and the fact that this is not sustainable.

  • Some talks about tax traders: there is no doubt that much can be done to increase income generation within the country. This Prof. Mills has proven over the past three years that, as a tax expert, he can deliver on that. Domestic revenue generation have exceeded their targets over the past three years.

  • Prof. was largely responsible for the introduction of VAT and the establishment of the GETFUND.

  • Instead of Eurobonds, the Mills led administration has also proven that they can wisely use the resources potentials that we have to secure long term capital to invest in productive sector  such us  the gas project.

However, the big question(s) which NPP does not want to be asked and run away from and does talk about is how the policy would be implemented and how it will impact on the different groups of people in the secondary schools. The paper NPP published disclosing the cost clearly states that, the resources will be used to pay off boarding and lodging fees for SHS students.

Folks, we have three (3) main categories of students in our secondary schools

-a) those is the boarding houses

-b) those who have to cope with lodging facilities and rooms rented from private individuals and

– c) Those who reside with their families and go to school

The first question!

Whiles the government can determine how much is charged at the boarding schools, who determines how much private individuals charge for their single rooms and double rooms or lodging facilities that students rent? If that cannot be determined, that throws the entire cost estimation issue opened and therefore for now, they have no clue how much the policy will cost.

Further, the figures GES have only shows those in the boarding facilities and those who are day students. Of the day students, no one knows which percentage is in lodging facilities or rented accommodation and those residing with their families. We all know how [email protected] budget was exceeded and how money was over spend without parliamentary approval. Will government control rents for private individuals?

Another area of concern is; will those living with the families also be paid the equivalent of the boarding fees or the equivalent of how much money private individuals are charging?

Also, if one talks about Total Free SHS education that must certainly include the cost of commuting from places of residents to the various students campuses. That said; how much is NPP planning to give to students as transportation fees? And will those who walk miles to school for lack of boarding facilities be compensated and how much money will that cost be per a head?

There comes the moral and the constitutional argument. NPP argue that article 25 (b) of the 1992 constitution calls on government to progressively make secondary education free and therefore it has to be done at all cost. What they have failed to point out which we must point out to them is the very first part of the same article 25. It says

All persons shall have the right to equal education opportunities and facilities and with a view to achieving the full realisation of that right

Morally, ethically and constitutionally therefore, to neglect sections of the Ghanaian society and deprived them of equal opportunities and equal facilities would be an agenda and a policy that tells thousands of Ghanaians who through no fault of theirs are born in deprived communities that they are not part of the society.

NDC policy that is to at least first improve the infrastructure improves facilities, increase and improve accessibility to quality education that give some sense of hope to every Ghanaian child irrespective of where you reside.

This NPP is planning to do:
Create a two or 3 tie education system in Ghana, privatise all the boarding facilities and give them to all their cronies to manage and determine cost which government will pay for, grant loans to their cronies to put up hostel facilities close to SHS’s which will accommodate students and government pay and neglect areas that are not profitable. This if implemented will ensure that even if they are out of power, they continue to receive government money to fund their party politics and continue to eat from the rents collected from government as lodging fees.
What is needed in Ghana is a brilliant and needy students policy that supports those who genuinely need help whiles governments pursue the agenda of giving every student and pupil in Ghana, at least some sense of quality education first.

Source: Frank  Davids


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