The Minority in Parliament has taken note of 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 state that since 2017 when the programme was implemented, we advised government to be prudent and meticulous in rolling out the policy, which would be meaningful and beneficial to Ghanaians if done well. This was not heeded and was labeled as propaganda.
The Minority again in 2019, two years after the implementation of the policy urged the government to review the policy but this request for a review was misinterpreted to mean cancelation. The areas that we and former President John Dramani Mahama identified for review are exactly what the IMF has identified.
These include effective targeting of the needy in the senior high schools that required support. That was what was done by the NDC government when it introduced the progressively Free SHS in 2015.
Infrastructure remains a major challenge in the senior high schools. Many projects initiated by the President Mahama administration to provide enough space for both accommodation and academic work remain unfinished. 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 noted in the report that there is a neglect of basic education. The Minority has pointed this out 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 declining allocation of funds for basic education but government has been adamant in this direction.
The Minority wants to state that in the 2020 Manifesto of the NDC, we clearly 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 urgently 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 affecting their academic work negatively. In the end they are unable to do the three years of secondary school programme.
It is our hope that this government which claims to be a ‘listening government’ will listen to what IMF has said and give our future leaders quality education that they deserve so that in next two decades country does not suffer any human resource challenges. Thank you.