A member of the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) and policy analyst with the Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC), Dr Steve Manteaw says the setting up of a secretariat for the free Senior High School (SHS) programme is waste of public funds.

According to him, there is the need to put the scare resources of the country to judicious use to ensure the sustainability of the government’s flagship programme. He said here during a training program organized by the GIZ in partnership with the Public Interest and ccountability Committee (PIAC) and the institute of financial and economic journalists (IFEJ) in Koforidua over the weekend.

He said, “Well, my point is that we need to be mindful to conserve resources if we want to be able to sustain the funding of free SHS and that means, we need to be efficient in the kind of administrative nomenclature that we use to back the scheme.”

Dr. Manteaw, who is also a Co-Chair of the Ghana Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (GHEITI) observed the need to harmonize the GETfund Secretariat with the free SHS programme.

“We have a GETfund which was established solely to facilitate the financing of education in this country, so in my view, we need to harmonize the free SHS resources with the GETfund resources which is 2.5% of Value Added Tax (VAT) so all these resources would have to be put together in a common pot and disburse from it.”

The harmonization of the two bodies in the education sector, Dr. Manteaw emphasize will do away with the cost of establishing different institutions in the same sector.

He observed, “That in itself helps you to avoid the duplicity of the cost of setting up different bureaucracies for free SHS and another one for the GETfund and again more importantly, it helps citizens and also the state agencies to track the use of resources that are approved to the education sector.

There have been concerns that some persons could inflate enrolment figures in order to benefit financially from the system.

Dr. Manteaw further urged the Ghana government to put in place mechanisms to ensure the possibility of creating ‘ghost’ students.

He stated, “It is a possibility that is why I am urging that we put in place mechanisms to forestall this from happening. It also becomes a challenge for the interest groups that will be tracking the use of oil revenues particularly PIAC and its partners.

We need to find ways of tracking the disbursements that goes to finance the free SHS to ensure that there are no ‘ghost’ students in the list that is submitted by the education authorities.”

By Francis Tandoh

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