General News of Saturday, 4 March 2017
In a scathing critique of the Akufo-Addo government’s first budget, the Minority in Parliament has described the budget as a manifestation of “monumental deception”, especially considering the New Patriotic Party’s promises to the education sector. The Minority contends that, the budget statement was silent on a number of promises on education, with the implementation of Free Senior High School education taking centre stage.
Addressing a press conference, the Minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu, said “we are now aware that they are only targeting new entrants to senior high schools and not every student. That raises questions of equity, it raises questions of fairness, aside the fact they are going to disappoint the youngsters.” “The budget is also completely silent on the President’s promise that all day students will be fed.
We wanted to find a space in the budget on how this free feeding will be provided in addition.” Mr. Iddrisu said the budget also vindicated the Mahama administration’s position that the “most viable approach to Free SHS was “the gradual approach under the progressively free senior high school programme, which was introduced in the 2015/2016 academic year.”
He added that, given the indications from the budget, “what the NPP has proposed in the budget is progressively free senior school under a different name. We find this to be an iniquity and unacceptable.” Financing needed for other educational sectors Mr. Iddrisu stressed that, the lifeblood of education in Ghana was largely funded from allocations from the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund).
But according to the Minority Leader, this was likely to suffer, given government’s announcement that the existing legislation that dictates the estimation of grants to government units like the GETFund, were being reviewed with intent to constrain them to a ceiling of 25 percent of tax revenues. He said government must be reminded that, education goes beyond just the second cycle as all levels of education require adequate financing.
“So even as they [government] are struggling to cap, re-allocate and redistribute, they should be mindful that all structures of education benefit from the allocation to the GETFund.” “We hasten to add that, even the free senior high school programme in its current state will not survive if adequate provision is not made to accommodate the massive increases in enrollment expected, in view of the decision to merge senior high school education with basic education.
This is more so when no clear provision has been made in the budget for the continuation of the Community Day Senior High school started by the Mahama administration.”