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General News of Friday, 24 February 2017


Government must define beneficiaries of free SHS - SEND Ghana

The Country Director of SEND Ghana, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), Mr George Osei-Bimpeh, has urged the government to conduct an appropriate means test to clearly define those who have to benefit from its free senior high school (SHS) policy.

The assessment, he said, was necessary to help reduce the blanket cost which has the tendency to affect the implementation of the policy.

In an interview on February 16, Mr Bimpeh said: “We have to develop an appropriate means test, to determine those who have to benefit from free SHS. In doing that we will be able to reduce the blanket cost that comes with it. It seems to me a lot of thinking hasn’t gone into that aspect of it.”

He added, “we really need to define who has to benefit from free SHS, as a way of achieving proper targeting and for social protection purpose.”

“It will help reduce the cost that government has to bear in terms of providing free SHS. It doesn’t have to go to everybody, there are people who have the means,” he said.

He said while the NGO supports, in principle, that all Ghanaians must have access to education, it believed that given the current economic situation, there is the need to be strategic to know those who meet free education.

Reduce leakages

Mr Bimpeh said it was necessary for the government to also look at reducing the leakages in the education sector budget to save money.

“How do we reduce the leakages and waste in the education budget as a way of optimising efficiency? We can block the loopholes and save a lot, to save the idea. We need to block the avenues for corruption,” he said.

His comments come on the back of the intent to allegedly use the Heritage Fund to fund the free SHS when it starts in September 2017.

He said the essence of the Heritage Fund was to take care of the future generation when the country ran out of oil resources.

“Oil is finite and a time will come when we won’t have it again. The argument of investing in the children now for the future is not convincing,” he said.

CSPOG wants dialogue

The Civil Society Platform on Oil and Gas (CSPOG), a group championing the efficient management of the country’s oil revenues, in a statement on February 17, called on the government to hold a national dialogue on financing options for the free SHS.

“If the enrolment and cost data available to government were shared, it will make for a more informed debate on the programme’s viability in the immediate, medium to long term,” the statement said.