Feature Article of Wednesday, 26 September 2012
Columnist: Agyemang, Katakyie Kwame Opoku
Mr. Chairman, Hon. Member of Parliament, Distinguished Guests, Members of the Media present, Fellow Ghanaians, Ladies and Gentlemen.
I am greatly honoured, and indeed indebted to the organisers of this fundraising event for giving me this platform to share with you, the need for the free SHS education policy proposed by the leader of our great party, Hon. Nana Akufo- Addo. This is a policy that most concerned Ghanaians, who are passionate about the welfare of the Ghanaian child, have accepted in good faith, knowing that it is long overdue. This comprehensive policy covers not only the poor and rich, but the vulnerable and every Ghanaian child without regard to tribe, region or party affiliation.
Mr. Chairman, in this technological world the most cheated person is not the one who studies under trees or lacks school uniforms. But for me, the most cheated person has been anyone who has been denied formal education, especially at the secondary level. It is sometimes mind boggling to hear people in higher positions in government today argue that it is NOT possible to implement free secondary education policy in Ghana because of lack of money, even in an economy they have touted as growing at a rate of 14%. Some even think that because somebody at 50 years ago couldn’t implement such policy means none of the current crop of politicians could do so today. But can these same people bring to the fore how the current government managed to secure funds for the celebration of Kwame Nkrumah’s birthday, or the acquisition of 5 military jets?
Mr. Chairman, I strongly believe that the proponents of free education should not be subjected to public ridicule, but rather the free SHS policy should be a matter of intellectual discussion by Ghanaians, because Ghana needs it, Ghana deserves it and for that matter all of us must contribute to this great idea. Nana Akufo-Addo, in his recent encounter with IEA in Ghana spelt out that; “leadership is about choices - I will choose to invest in the future of our youth and of our country”. Nana Addo’s statement, no doubt, questions the rationale behind the payment of fraudulent debts, when children cannot access secondary education.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we should all bear in mind that education in whatever form can never be quantified in monetary terms. Therefore, it is imperative the government of Ghana utilises our tax revenue, loans, foreign exchange earnings, grants and aids, fees, licenses, and oil revenue to invest in children’s education. Education is at the heart of the NPP’s programme hence, the need to redefine the basic education to include not only the senior high schools, but also to unearth every child’s God-given talent. We believe that the key to funding free SHS is not hidden in the heavens but located right here on this very planet. It only takes the right leadership to find it.
Mr Chairman, I couldn't agree more with Nana Akufo-Addo when he said “We cannot transform the economy and the country without transforming the knowledge and skills of our people”. Every child, rich or poor, able-bodied or physically challenged, deserves quality education at any level. In Ghana, from the Speaker of Parliament to the Clerk, from the President to his deputy ministers, and from the Chief Justice to her secretary; at least, all can boast of their fair share and the benefit of secondary education.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the implicit and explicit costs of ‘leaving’ our children on the streets at the age of ‘16’ outstrip the explicit cost of free secondary education. Nana Akufo-Addo’s free SHS policy is the only opportunity for the youth to be at par with the likes of Prez John Mahama, Lee Ocran, Ofosu Kwakye and all others who are strongly kicking against the free SHS idea. Interestingly, in page (70) of the NDC 2008 manifesto, it states that; “The NDC will extend the “free” aspect of the FCUBE into areas such as doing away with fees for sports and cultural activities...”. The question is, if providing free education for Ghanaian children is a bad idea, why was the NDC so keen in thinking of adding to the free FCUBE introduced by the erstwhile NPP government?
Mr. Chairman, if the NDC claims the free SHS is problematic, then it would be more prudent if they could let Ghanaians know their stance on the Free School Uniforms, Free Education in the North, Free Laptops, Free Textbooks, Free School Feeding Program, Free Bus ride, Free mass Cocoa Spraying, Free Scholarship to Cuba, Free Non-formal Education, Free Maternal Care, and perhaps the unfulfilled Free One-Time Premium. Is one FREE better than another?
Mr. Chairman, I would end my speech by paraphrasing Mahama Ghandhi, the former Indian political and spiritual leader. He says; whatever good thing that we can do today, we should do it and not postpone it; for we might not live to do it again.
Fellow Ghanaians, this is a very worthy cause and with your support today, we can truly make a difference for the future of children in Ghana. If Dr. Kwame Nkrumah had thought the same way as the NDC is thinking now, the free education in the North would have been a mirage, and only God knows what would have been the fate of John Mahama, Alhaji Bature, and Co. Judgement debt payment versus free SHS; the choice is yours!
Thank you and God bless you all. Kukrudu!!
Katakyie Kwame Opoku Agyemang (www.katakyie.com) 07577626433
NPP-UK Communications Team Fundraising Event
At Dominion Centre, Woodgreen, London
22nd Sept, 2012