General News of Thursday, 8 November 2012
Mrs. Yvonne Nduom, wife of the flagbearer of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP) says there is great difference between her husband’s promise of free education and that of the main opposition New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) free SHS.
Mrs. Yvonne Nduom says the PPP had already fine-tuned its education policy before the NPP came out with the modalities to achieve that goal.
Speaking to Emefa Apawu, host of Breakfast XYZ on Radio XYZ 93.1FM, Mrs. Nduom said Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom and the PPP officials came out with the policy on making education free as far back as January before the NPP started trumpeting their “free senior high school” in the middle of the year.
In a bid to draw the line between the two similar promises, Mrs. Nduom said while the PPP says “free, compulsory, continuous, quality education from Kindergarten, [the NPP] says free secondary education.”
She said the NPP promise is “an elitist policy because those parents who [benefit] have money to give their children for extra tutorials; they hire teachers [and] they send them to nice schools here. They are the ones who get access to these premier secondary schools and they are the ones who are going to benefit from the free education.”
Explaining the rationale behind the PPP’s promise, the management consultant said: “We all know that for ten years that we came out with this new educational system, 1.5 million children have failed the BECE. Those people they are not Ghanaians.
They won’t get free SHS. We know that if you were to take one thousand students from class one, by the time they get to class six, 250 of them would have dropped out for various reasons.”
She explained that at the JHS level, another 60 percent of those who qualified to write the BECE will not make it to the SHS level, leaving just a handful of them going higher.
According to her, Dr Nduom’s policy intends to target the majority of students who otherwise may not make it through the educational ladder by expanding access and equity to accommodate both families who can afford and those who cannot.
“My husband says we will abolish BECE and also we know that the brain formation in children happens from two to seven, so he says free kindergarten. That is where you can mold their brains,” Mrs Nduom added.
She said free compulsory kindergarten and basic education will ensure that children go through the system and acquire at least 13 years of continuous free education as opposed to the current nine years.
Asked whether the country has the resources to bring such a vision to fruition, Mrs Nduom said “it can be done. It is the will. You have to decide; what is your priority?” She argued that countries such as India and Malaysia made it their priority to invest in their human resource through education that is how come they have developed that fast.
She said investors are not coming into the country in droves because the pool of human resource is non-existent and the government must create that base to attract more investors who are unwilling to come and for fear that they will spend more in training people.