General News of Thursday, 18 October 2018
A presidential aspirant of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Alhaji Nurideen Iddrisu is of the view that parents are paying more fees under the Free Senior High School (SHS) policy than when the system was not free.
According to him, because the policy was not well planned, the government is unable to fund it properly which has resulted in parents paying extra monies to ensure that their children get a quality education.
He explained that the double track system introduced in September as part of the free SHS system meant that parents had to look for teachers and pay them to organise extra classes for their children who are on alternate tracks.
Speaking to Graphic Online in Accra, Alhaji Nurideen said the food the students are fed with was not enough and that parents had to send a lot of monies to their children to buy food to supplement what they are given in school.
President Akufo-Addo launched the Free SHS policy on September 12, 2017, describing the programme as the means of creating a society of opportunities and empowerment for every citizen.
The Free SHS policy was one of the New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) main campaign promises in the 2016 general elections.
According to Alhaji Nurideen, many head teachers are afraid to talk about the challenges confronting the implementation of the free SHS policy and the double track system because they fear that they will be victimised or sacked.
He stressed that head teachers who complain about the policy are victimised, saying “there is no freedom in this nation.”
“The vindictiveness is too much. Once you speak up, you are picked up and you are sacked,” Alhaji Nurideen said.
“Those who introduced it (the double track), how many of them have their children in the schools. They will never put their children there because the system is not working,” he quizzed.
Alhaji Nurideen, who is a banker and oil and gas consultant was of the view that the government introduced the double track component of the free SHS policy due to lack of infrastructure and proper planning.
He said the government could have saved itself from embarrassment in the implementation of the free SHS policy by simply apologising to Ghanaians that it is not ready for the policy.
According to him, the double track would lead to multiple tracks if the necessary facilities are not instituted to ensure the proper implementation of the policy.
Alhaji Nurideen said the president himself does not even know how much the system cost, explaining that when he (President Akufo-Addo) was asked on BBC interview on how much it will cost and the source of funding for the project, he was unable to answer.
He explained that for the country to succeed, it ought to have a national plan that would be followed by all, no matter the government in office.
He said because the country does not have a national plan and policy, each political party does whatever it thinks it is good and in the end, nothing is achieved in our development as a nation.
Alhaji Nurideen is seeking to be elected to lead NDC in the 2020 elections. He is competing with 13 others, including former President John Dramani Mahama and Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, a former Minister of Trade and Industries.