General News of Sunday, 3 December 2017
The Free Senior High School policy will be sustained by the commitment of the NPP and subsequent governments to the development of the citizens, not the passage of laws, Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawuwia, has stated.
Citing the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) and the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) which, although backed by law, have often been starved of funds, Dr Bawumia said any government committed to developing the human resource of its citizens would show this commitment by making funds available for the sustenance of a policy which removes the barrier of affordability in the pursuit of knowledge.
In line with this, the Nana Akufo-Addo government, the Vice President stated, has allocated Ghs1.1billion in the 2018 budget for the funding of the Free SHS programme, and would make further allocations as required in the future, a clear sign of its commitment to developing Ghana’s human resource.
“The policy by Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, to introduce Free Senior High School Education is the real deal. We are covering everybody, and we are making the budgetary provision for it. Our commitment to building the human resources of Ghana began with the introduction of the Free Senior High School. Free Senior High School education doesn’t have to be backed by law to be funded; it just has to backed by commitment. After all there was law when we were not paying GETFund. Wasn’t there a law to make sure we paid GETFund, and we left it in arrears? Or National Health Insurance Fund?
“What is required is the commitment and the political will to make sure that the budgetary resources are made available to support it, and this is where Nana Akufo-Addo’s passion is and we are going to make those budgetary allocations year after year after year, to make sure this policy works.”
Vice President Bawumia was speaking at the 23rd Speech and Prize Giving Day of the Tamale Senior High School (Tamasco) on Saturday December 2, 2017. It was under the theme “Secondary Education in Northern Ghana: Producing Responsible Citizens through Discipline.”
The Free Senior High School policy began on 12th September 2017, following a campaign pledge by then candidate Nana Akufo-Addo to make Senior High School Education free for all qualified students from the Junior High School level. Although it has faced some initial challenges, countless parents have welcomed the Akufo-Addo government’s decision to absorb the sometimes crippling cost of senior high school education in order to remove the barrier of cost which has deprived the nation of many potential leaders in all spheres of life.
While acknowledging the initial challenges with the implementation the Free SHS programme, the Vice President, who is also an old student of Tamasco, said they can be overcome if the nation sets its mind to it.
“Thankfully today we are no longer debating whether it is possible to introduce free senior high school education in Ghana. There were some who said it was not possible, but said it is possible, and we have made it possible. So we are no longer debating the possibility of Free Senior High School education. Now we are debating how we can deal with the challenges and teething problems. Yes, we can deal with the challenges and the teething problems, if we set our minds to it, and we have set our minds to it, we are going to do it for the sake of posterity.”
“Government”, Dr Bawumia continued, “will continue to engage stakeholders to address any challenges in implementing the free Senior High School policy in a holistic manner and all inclusive manner. We remain firm in our conviction that we will overcome all the challenges and hurdles. We know that there are challenges that have been with furniture, beds and so on. Thankfully, last week money has been released and starting next week, all Senior high schools will start getting allocations to increase their furniture provisions.
“We are also implementing a comprehensive incentive package for teachers, including enhanced training. We have also restored the Teacher Training Allowance, to further encourage enrolment and produce more teachers to train our young ones.”
Alluding to the projected increase in the intake of students into tertiary institutions, “which we want”, Bawumia said government has prioritised the expansion of facilities in the existing universities and working on establishing new ones.
“We have also abolished the 25% Corporate Tax imposed on private universities in the 2018 budget. This will free up funds for them to also expand their facilities and invest in their human resource such as lecturers and non-teaching staff” Dr Bawumia indicated.
The Tamale Senior High School was established in 1951, and has produced countless illustrious sons and daughters including Dr Hilla Limann, President of the 3rd Republic of Ghana; Alhaji Aliu Mahama, former Vice President of the 4th Republic; Alhaji Rahim Gbadamosi, a former Director General of the Ghana Education Service; Hon Alban Bagbin, Minority Leader in Parliament; Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambas, the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel, and head of UNOWAS; Dr. Abdul-Nashiru Issahaku, immediate past Governor of the Bank of Ghana, and Hon Otiko Afisa Djaba, Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, the sitting Vice President, Alhaji Dr Mahamudu Bawumia.