Free SHS education is an unavoidable Constitutional Obligation

Mr James Kofi Annan, President of Challenging Heights, a non- governmental Organisation, has called on President John Evans Atta Mills to make pronouncement on his commitment to a free Senior High School (SHS) educational policy.

“We believe that discussions by IMANI Ghana on the free SHS should be centered on how we would be able to implement such a policy, rather than discouraging its introduction in the first place,” he said.

Mr Annan said this in a statement issued by Challenging Heights and copied to the Ghana News Agency in Accra.

IMANI Ghana, a policy think tank, recently questioned the feasibility of the free SHS promised made by Nana Addo-Dankwa Akufo Addo, Flagbearer of the New Patriotic Party and also the Convention people’s Party (CPP) and the Progressive Peoples Party (PPP).

Mr Annan said Dr Kwame Nkrumah, first President of Ghana, used the taxpayer’s money to fund free education from elementary school to the University level, therefore, IMANI’s argument over the use of taxpayer’s money to implement the policy had no basis.

“Where are we getting the money to implement the free school uniform for the basic school pupils, are they not from the taxes that we pay to government?” he asked.

Mr Annan said the only way the Government could ensure quality education for all was to implement the policy as enshrined in the 1992 Constitution to enable the ordinary Ghanaian youth access free but quality SHS education.

He said about 50 out of the 300 newly admitted students into the Archbishop Potter’s SHS at Takoradi, lost their admission due to late payment and parents’ inability to pay fees.

“Those who were able to make payments within the stipulated time had to struggle very hard to meet the deadline and we have similar situations throughout schools in farming and fishing districts in Ghana,”, he stated.

The statement said revelations made by Mr Albert Ken Dapaah, Chairman of Public Accounts Committee of Parliament, indicated that Ghana loses three billion dollars every year due to lack of proper record keeping, $290 million annually on poor sanitation, and over $20 million in taxes involving fake phone importations.

“Over GHC 600 million is lost to preventable judgment debts,” he said. “Do we sincerely believe that we cannot afford 200 million to implement this policy, a sacrifice to pay for free basic, secondary and tertiary education?”

Mr Annan said a proposal made by IMANI for the ‘de-boardinisation’ of all SHS in the country as a way of easing the burden of parents was not the best solution, stressing that the move would affect students.

“Is IMANI telling Ghanaians that because there are a lot of unemployed university and SHS graduates, we should shut the door of secondary education to aspiring and brilliant SHS students from poorer homes”?

“They are also telling us that we must close down some of our Universities to ensure that only the exact numbers of graduates that can be accommodated at the job market are offered admission,” he said.

Mr Annan said children who should benefit from the cocoa scholarship scheme should not be deprived so that they would not suffer the consequences. GNA

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