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One of the best things that should ever happen to Ghana is free SHS. It is national in character, the impact is huge but it is costly. So any government that demonstrates the audacity to implement such a policy must be supported by all, more especially when such a policy is a constitutional obligation.

 

In the collective wisdom of Ghanaians the NPP demonstrated convincing commitment in the last election campaign and in their manifesto to implement this policy in a more desired manner and has been offered the mandate to do same. This however does not immune the Nana Addo’s government of the inherent deficiencies that come with implementing such a huge policy.

 

Ghana is not the first country in the world to implement free SHS, however, the development experiences of Ghana and the challenges of Ghana is Ghanaian specific and requires indigenous Ghanaian solutions to them.

 

We are Ghanaians and we know ourselves better. We know the unacceptable levels of economic and social inequality that exist here. We know the kind of salaries and allowances that government appointees take home. We know the kind of salaries and allowances that the article 71 public sector workers take home. We know the ex-gratia of the Ghanaian parliamentarian in his four year term, and we know the kind of outrageous salaries that ministers and board members take home excluding their entertainment, security, fuel and dressing allowances.

 

We also know the daily struggle of a roadside coco seller just as we know the predicament of an average street vendor. We know the poverty of the ordinary civil and public servant just as we are not oblivious of the conditions of Ghanaian subsistence farmer.

 

We know about the financing challenges we have with other social intervention policies such as the National Health Insurance Program, the school feeding program and the capitation grant. We are aware of occasion where wages and salaries of workers are paid on the 4th and 5th of the next month due to difficulty in mobilizing adequate funds. We know about the monthly and quarterly interest payments on our loans which is almost half of our GDP as we still borrow further. We know about our statutory payments to MMDA common fund and GET fund. We have not forgotten about the One million dollars per each of the 216 constituencies annually which amounts to 216 million dollars annually. One village, one dam and one district one factory amongst other promises. We recognize the effort of our president in blocking lots of the existing loop holes but we are also not unaware of allegations of others being created under your watch.

 

Beyond these exorbitantly paid political appointees and the article 71 public sector workers, there are several other people in the private sector who make so much money. These people hold the wealth of this country; they are comfortable and are capable of paying the fees of their wards which they will happily do anyway, so why not give them the chance to pay? Why at all is the need in paying the fees of a minister who enjoys a salary of over ghc17, 000 each month plus all forms of flimsy allowances and per diems? It is great to be audacious but unbridled audacity may be a recipe for chaos.

 

Allow the rich to Pay so you can treat the poor better!!

Dr Prince Armah

The New Patriotic Party should never be credited in history as the one that contributed to the collapse of private Senior High School system, IFEST boss has said.

Despite the immense benefits of the Free SHS policy, Dr Prince Armah believes a more comprehensive approach can be adopted to protect private schools which are on the verge of extinction on account of the new policy.

His remarks come hours after Heads of Private Senior High Schools addressed a press conference Wednesday to protest the veritable harm they believe the Free SHS policy will have on their existence.

“We consider the development so far as undermining the contribution of private senior high schools in the educational sector. It is as though the government is intentionally trying to collapse all private senior high schools in the country,” General Secretary of the Conference of Heads of Private Second Cycle Schools (CHOPSS), Joseph Dzamesi said.

The People’s National Convention (PNC), has commended the government for coming through on its promise to provide free education at the Senior High School (SHS) level.

 

The party stated that the Free SHS policy, which was launched on Tuesday by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, will be of great help to both the beneficiary students and their parents.

 

“The People’s National Convention (PNC) wishes to congratulate the Akufo Addo-led government for making the Free Senior High School campaign pledge a reality,” a statement from the party signed by its National Vice Chairman, Henry Haruna Asante said.

 

“As a party that believes in social interventions for the benefit of the masses, the PNC supports this policy and hopes that it will help the youth whiles easing the financial hardship on parents.”

 

The PNC said they had planned to implement the policy themselves if they had been elected into office, adding that “almost all the governments that Ghana has experienced in this fourth republic” have taken up at least one of their manifesto promises. The party urged the NPP Government to put the right structures in place to ensure that the Free SHS policy is sustained over the years.

 

“The Free SHS policy is in no doubt a major step in moving the nation forward. We therefore expect that the appropriate structures will be made available to secure the continuity of this intervention,” the PNC statement added.

‘I was called a liar’

 

Nana Addo spoke of the criticism and ridicule he received from political opponents when he first talked about his plans to introduced the policy if elected.

 

According to him, his opponents said that it was a political gimmick which could only be possible in 20 years.

 

“When I proposed this policy in 2008 many were those who said free SHS could not be done. The idea was ridiculed and described by propagandists as a vote buying gimmick even though ironically it did not win me that election. I was labeled a liar by my opponents who went on to state that free SHS could only be possible in 20 years’ time,” he recalled on Tuesday

The Conference of Heads of Assisted Secondary schools(CHASS) have expressed disappointment at the implementation of the Free SHS policy saying that private schools have been treated unfairly in the process.

 

Addressing the media at a press conference, Wednesday, the Public Relations Officer of CHASS, Kyei Baffour said the policy may force private schools in the country to fade out. He stated that the number of students who were admitted into private schools this year turned out to be very minimal because they were not included in the Computerized School Selection Placement System.

 

"Private schools are not enlisted in the CSSPS so students cannot even select them. Students are not coming to private schools this year because the posting system has been unfair to private schools. All private schools should be enrolled unto the system to give students the chance to select them.", Mr. Kyei Baffour said.

 

The start of the 2017/18 academic year has seen anxious parents and their wards flood public high schools nationwide to confirm placement in the schools, but indications are that private high schools are seeing little to no activity.

 

"Private schools do not charge expensively as people think, there are some facilities that add to the cost but when subsidized by government it makes it more affordable", Kyei Baffour advised parents.

 

CHASS says government did not consider the possible negative effects to the private education sector before implementing the policy. They, therefore, called on government to restructure the tenets of the policy so that they can benefit from the flagship education programme.

The University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) has hinted of a nationwide strike beginning Monday, 18 September 2017 in solidarity with their colleagues at the University of Education, Winneba (UEW).

 

The move, according to the local president of UTAG at the UEW, Dr Samuel Bekoe, is in solidarity with push for a speedy resolution of the impasse that has resulted in several weeks of strike action by lecturers on that campus.

 

UEW lecturers have accused the governing council of the University of showing no commitment to resolving their matter.

 

The lecturers are unhappy with a court ruling which ordered the Vice Chancellor, Professor Mawutor Avoke, and the Chief Finance Officer to hand over to the Pro-Vice Chancellor because they were appointed by a governing council whose mandate had expired.

 

They also want the chairman of the new university council, Professor Emmanuel Nicholas Abakah, replaced and the council to stay off their private fund.

 

Speaking in an interview with Class News, Mr Bekoe hinted of a nationwide UTAG strike action on Monday to support their course if their issues have not been addressed by then.

 

He told Jonas Ofori-Yeboah: “We are on contract to teach within a certain environment and if the environment in which we are to perform our function as employees of the university is not conducive then it will not be effective for us to do our work and so that is exactly the situation we find ourselves. Currently we are not in a good environment to do our work effectively. So for the students who will suffer, if they have any concerns they should address it to the university because the university gave them admission and promised to give them tuition.

 

“We are staying out of the lecture room until two of the [suspended] officers are brought back and also, hands stay off completely from our private fund and investment.

 

“Yesterday, we [UTAG] had a national executive committee meeting and the decision we took there was that UEW UTAG should continue with the current strike and then on Monday, UEW will be joined by all other public universities in Ghana. So from Monday it’s going to be a total national strike.”

 

UEW has been in the news for some time, following a court action instituted by a private citizen, Supi Kofi Kwayera, against the school, arguing that, the Vice Chancellor and Finance Manager were taking decisions under a governing council whose mandate had expired in 2013.

 

The plaintiff, acting through his lawyer, Alex Afenyo Markin, is seeking the following reliefs currently before the High Court in Winneba: A declaration that the extension of the mandate of the governing council of the 1st respondent by the 2nd respondent to stay in office to perform such functions as a properly appointed council was in breach of Section 8, Act 672.

 

A declaration that all decisions taken by the defacto body of persons who constituted themselves as governing council is null and void and of no effect.

 

A declaration that the contracts awarded to Sparkxx Gh Ltd, Paabadu Construction and C-Deck, were done in breach of the Procurement Act (Act 663).

 

A declaration that all payments made to Lamas Ltd were done without the express written consent of the Ghana Highway Authority, and in breach of the Memorandum of Understanding and same must be refunded.

 

A declaration that the illegally appointed Principal Officers of the 1st respondent wilfully misappropriated public funds by failing to put to public tender for the construction of the North campus road and thereby causing financial loss to the state.

Lack of money by parents should no longer be a barrier to quality senior high school education in Ghana, Minister of State-designate in charge of Tertiary Education, Professor Kwesi Yankah, has said.

 

Prof Yankah, who was speaking on Thursday, August 31, at the launch of the official logo for government’s free SHS policy which begins September 2017 emphasized that: “Poverty, gender deprivation, should no longer be barriers to quality education.”

 

He said the government is ready to ensure a “fair and just society and equal opportunities for all irrespective of family circumstances”

.

He stressed that the “expected expansion to quality education will be achieved without compromising on quality”.

 

Prof Yankah explained that the package comes with qualitative instructional material, improvement in school infrastructure as well as teacher motivation and capacity building.

 

He said free education is the foundation for national development and inspires students from diverse backgrounds to aspire to expand their knowledge for the benefit of society.

 

He said: “The free SHS adds value to prevailing free primary and junior high school policies to make pre-tertiary education a totally free undertaking that should eventually position Ghana to enhance the quality of its human capital to boost national development.

Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, a Deputy Minister of Information, has admonished parents to take advantage of the Government's Free Senior High School (SHS) to ensure their children and wards got enrolled in school.

 

He said the programme was geared towards relieving the huge financial burden on parents whilst providing free and accessible quality education to every eligible Ghanaian student to compete with their counterparts globally.

 

He noted that the world had become a global village and, therefore, the policy will enable more Ghanaian students to freely access quality education to help them to adequately compete globally.

 

Mr OppongNkrumah, who was speaking at the Assin South District Town Hall Meeting, said Government remained committed to seeing that the policy worked for the over 400,000 students across the country.

 

In addition, he stated that the policy would grant enormous financial laxity to parents to have the opportunity to invest their monies into other productive economic ventures to better their lots.

 

Mr Oppong Nkrumah took time to explain the qualification and eligibility criteria for enrolment and assured Ghanaians that the initial challenges that characterised the Computer School Selection Procedure System (CSSPS) would be resolved.

 

He gave the reassurance that on no grounds would any eligible student be discriminated against whilst government continued to engage all relevant stakeholders to ensure its sustainability.

 

Mr Oppong Nkrumah asked Ghanaians, especially religious and traditional leaders, not to exclude themselves from the governance process but continually offer constructive criticisms, guidance, prayers and innovative ideas to speed up the process of nation building and conflict resolution.

 

He pointed out that the Government was a listening one with the right attitude and temperament to stomach all discerning views from all.

 

"As patriotic citizens of Ghana, it is incumbent on us to give strong backing to the Government as it begins to manifest its carefully thought-out policies to drastically reduce poverty and create jobs and wealth for all."

 

Touching on Government priority areas, he gave the assurance that the President and his team were keen on ensuring sound environmental practices, quality healthcare, security, job creation and youth empowerment as they worked assiduously with the uncompromising resolve to make corruption a "punishable offence" in Ghana.

 

Mrs Sally Nelly Coleman, the District Director of Education, explained the concept of free education and the gains associated with it and urged all students and parents to seek right answers from the District Education Office.

 

She charged parents to show greater commitment to the education of their children to enable them to grow into responsible adults.

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