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Feature Article of Thursday, 4 October 2012

Columnist: Thompson, Kofi

Those Promising It Must Tell Ghanaians

The Full Cost Of Implementing A Free Secondary Education Policy Over 4 Years

By Kofi Thompson

The New Patriotic Party's (NPP) presidential candidate, Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo, succeeded in saving himself from considerable embarrassment, when he declined to tell the BBC's Stephen Suker, the source of funding for the implementation of his party's free secondary education policy, during an appearance by Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo on the BBC's flagship interview programme Hardtalk, on 5th March, 2012.

He did so by telling Stephen Suker that he preferred to tell the Ghanaian people first - "the fact that many Ghanaians were actually listening on radio, and watching the interview on television as well as online, obviously lost on him" a wag I know said to me after the event.

Perhaps Mr. Suker allowed him to get away with the gaffe - that refusing to let voters know the full cost of a policy proposal represented, and would have destroyed Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo's chances of being elected as president, had he been vying for power in any of the Western democracies - because he thought there had to be a cultural reason for the unheard of (to a sophisticated Western media professional's mind) curiosity of a leading African politician vying for the presidency of his country, refusing to reveal where exactly the money to fund a policy of free secondary education promised voters by his party in a presidential election campaign, would come from?

Surely, the time has now come for the more patriotic, principled and responsible sections of the Ghanaian media, to insist that all the nation's political parties promising voters free secondary education in Ghana, ought to provide Ghanaians with more detailed information about the implementation of that policy when they win power in the December polls?

It is important that a policy proposal that clearly resonates with an overwhelming majority of ordinary Ghanaians, is explained in practical terms, in all its aspects.

For example, how much and where exactly will the funding for implementing that policy come from - and will it be sustainable over the 4-year tenure as president of the candidate promising it?

And at what point exactly, will a parent with two sons in Prempeh College and daughters each in St. Louis and Yaa Asantewaa respectively, for example, stop paying their fees - when the presidential candidate promising free secondary education assumes office in January 2013?

And, what, dear reader, does "free secondary education" entail for parents, whose wards are in secondary schools across Ghana, and currently paying for a plethora of items listed in their wards' schools' prospectus?

Will they no longer be required to pay for items ranging from PTA through textbooks to building-funds, for example?

If that will be the case, then at what point exactly ought Ghanaian parents to expect to be told to cease paying for all the sundry items listed above - when an NPP, Convention Peoples Party, Peoples National Convention or Progressive Peoples Party (PPP) presidential candidate is sworn into office as Ghana's new president, after the December 7th presidential poll?

Put simply, dear reader, Ghanaians must be told exactly how much free secondary education will cost over the 4-year tenure of the presidential candidates promising it - and from where precisely the money to pay for it will be coming from. A word to the wise...

Tel: 027 745 3109.

Email: peakofi.thompson@gmail.com

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