General News of Friday, 21 September 2012
A leading member of the Conventions People’s Party (CPP) Kosi Dede says access to Senior High School must first be guaranteed for all Junior High School candidates before the state considers implementing any free Senior High School programme.
“When people want votes then they jump around and say that they are going to give free education and unless you think deeply about the issues, you will lose sight and simply go and vote because somebody has said free education,” Mr Kosi Dede said in an interview on Breakfast XYZ Friday.
The flagbearer of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Akufo Addo, has made the free SHS policy his flagship manifesto promise ahead of the December polls. So has the flagbearer of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom.
But Kosi Dede said free SHS will only worsen the situation if access to the SHS is not guaranteed for all JHS students who come out of school.
“Today the problem is not just about providing free education but there is a bigger problem of access that has to be dealt with and they are not dealing with that one,” he said.
He said over 50% of basic school leavers are unable to go to the SHS due to the lack of infrastructure to accommodate them and this should be the primary focus of all politicians who want to win the election.
Mr. Kosi Dede argues that the constitution of Ghana made provisions that education should be made progressively free but the NPP and the NDC have failed to do this and cannot be trusted with any other promises.
He said the NPP had eight years to make the constitutional provision a reality but failed to do so and that “now that they have been out of power and are hungry for power and they know that education is a major concern, he (Nana Akufo-Addo) quickly flies it and says we will give free education.”
He said the integrity of political parties promising free education should now must be questioned because they had the opportunity and yet failed to do it.
But the NPP National Youth Organizer has described Mr Kosi Dedeh arguments as misplaced. Anthony Karbo told XYZ News that free education at the basic level will be re-defined to strengthen the foundation for the Senior High School.
He said the CPP has a track record as the only party to have provided free education to some parts of the north and should not doubt the potential of the NPP to bring the policy to fruition.
He agrees that there is a need to increase access but he insists that the issues of “affordability and quality” are just as crucial.
“We are saying that we need a huge injection of schools for 2013 September. We should be able as a country to commit some amount of our resources to the building of 350 brand new schools, dormitories and improve facilities to absorb these numbers that are coming up,” Mr Karbo argued.