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General News of Tuesday, 12 September 2017


Gov’t must be forced to create financing formula for Free SHS - Ablakwa

Former Deputy Minister of Education has called for a conscious policy that will force the government to set aside funds to provide the needs of Senior High Schools (SHS).

Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa fears the implementation of the Free SHS Program on Tuesday by the Akufo-Addo led administration may shift government’s attention.

New entrants to SHS will enjoy tuition and other amenities free of charge; in fulfillment of a long held campaign promise by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) made as far back as the 2008 elections.

The promise gathered momentum in the 2016 elections despite an attempt by the previous National Democratic Congress' (NDC) government to implement the policy.

Having won the elections, the Nana Akufo-Addo government says it will not compromise on implementing the flagship policy despite a number of criticisms some of which came from within the government in power.

But speaking on the Joy FM’s Super Morning Show Tuesday, he said the country needs the formula to prevent a situation where successive governments will focus on raising money to sustain the policy.

“There is no component in the budget for infrastructure, computer laboratories, teacher motivation and teaching and learning materials. So we must insist on a formula.

“So if in your budget, 70 percent is what we will agree as a nation will go to funding Free SHS, 30 percent should be in the budget as well. We must find that money for infrastructure, maintenance, development and all of that,” he said.

Mr Ablakwa also fears if those are not taken care of, Ghanaians will be under the illusion that all that is needed is Free SHS and paying for students without being concerned with what they are learning in the schools.

He said with Ghanaian students competing with many others globally, it is important to focus and address the aforementioned concerns.

The Member of Parliament (MP) for North Tongu has criticized the government's flagship policy arguing it will not stand the test of time.

He is concerned, the government cannot find the money to continue supporting the programme which makes it unsustainable.

“What is clear to me is that government is going to struggle to find the money. For an adequate and proper implementation of Free SHS, you would need ¢600 million a term,” he argued.

Meanwhile, Policy Think Tank IMANI Africa is predicting a possible increase in Value Added Tax if the government fails to find an innovative way of increasing revenue mobilization.