Since the introduction of the free senior high school program in 2017, the minority has reportedly urged the government to go slowly to ensure that the free shs policy is properly executed and is advantageous to Ghanaians.
However, they said that this was dismissed as propaganda and not paid any attention.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently labeled Ghana in its country report as having inadequate targeting, which prompted the Minority’s remarks.
The Free SHS program, which fully covers the cost of secondary education, “has helped increase enrollment but is poorly targeted,” according to the study that was released after the $ 3 billion bailout was approved.
Two years after the policy’s introduction, the Minority called on the administration to examine the policy, but this request for a review was misinterpreted as a call for its cancellation, according to a statement signed by Peter Nortsu Kotoe, the ranking member of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Education.
The areas the IMF has identified for review match exactly those that Minority Leader and former President of the Republic John Dramani Mahama mentioned.
MINORITY STATEMENT ON IMF’s COMMENTS ON THE FREE SHS PROGRAMME.
The Minority in Parliament has observed with keen interest the statement made by the International Monetary Fund regarding the poor implementation and targeting of the Free SHS programme in Ghana.
The Minority wants to put on record that since 2017 when the programme was implemented, we cautioned government to hasten slowly so that a proper roll out of the policy would be meaningful and beneficial to Ghanaians. This was not heeded and was described as a propaganda.
The Minority again in 2019, two years after the implementation of the policy called on the government to review the policy but this request for a review was misconstrued to mean cancelation. Areas that the Minority and former President of the Republic, John Dramani Mahama identified for review are exactly what the IMF has identified.
These include serious targeting of the vulnerable in the senior high schools that needed support. That was what was done by the NDC government when it introduced the progressively Free SHS in 2015.
Infrastructure remains a big challenge in the senior high schools. A large number of projects started by the President Mahama administration to provide enough space for both accommodation and academic work remains uncompleted. If government had not abandoned these projects, the infrastructure deficits would have been minimal. This was the vision of President Mahama that going into the future, enrolment into secondary schools was going to increase tremendously.
It was also observed in the report that there is a neglect of basic education. The Minority has noted this every year, especially during budget sessions, that the neglect of the basic education by this government was going to have a negative impact on the quality of education that we want for our children. We have observed the dwindling allocation of funds for basic education but government has been adamant in this direction.
The Minority wants to put on record that in the 2020 Manifesto of the NDC, we categorically stated that we would engage and involve the private senior high schools in the Free SHS programme and that remains a commitment the next NDC government will do.
In conclusion, the Minority wants the government to as a matter of urgency release money to the heads of Senior High Schools to enable them run their schools efficiently.
Additionally, the current calendar for the senior high schools must be reviewed because the first year students who reported in February this year and went on holidays during Easter are still home. This is impacting negatively on their academic work. In the end they are unable to do the three years of the secondary school programme.
It is our belief that this government which claims to be a ‘listening government’ will listen to what the IMF has said and give our future leaders the quality of education that they deserve so that in the next two decades the country does not suffer any human resource challenges.
Select Committee on Education.