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Opinions of Sunday, 9 March 2014

Columnist: Genfi, Brogya

RE: Good luck wish to the president

by franklin cudjoe

Mr. Cudjoe, just a few issues with your piece to President Mahama on his progressive Free SHS promise.

First of all, you stated that “…the last time I checked you and your political party rode on our (IMANI’s) analysis, publications and vehement advocacy against the NPP's trumpets on free SHS in 2012”.

It is important for you and your IMANI to note and have it as part of your records that neither the President nor the NDC as a political party relied on your so-called analysis and or publication against the NPPs unrealistic FREE SHS policy in the 2012 political campaigns. The President relied on provisions of Article 25 (b) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana which was clearly outlined in our 2012 Manifesto. Please do not blow your horn for what is obvious.
Again, you stated that “the NDC instead paid for 36 very humorous media adverts against the NPP promise of Free SHS and I believe it worked…”
What is the basis of your humorous conclusion? In any case, the NDC did not sponsor 36 media adverts against the NPPs unrealistic Free SHS promise as you and other elements in the opposition NPP claim.
Mr. Cudjoe, on the costing of the progressive free SHS education which includes Vocational and Technical education, His Excellency the President was very clear; it will cost GHC71,152,275 for the first implementation year (2015/2016 academic year) and the funding will be captured by the 2015 budget.
Chief, you gave a math lesson as follows;
“Assumption: 300,000 day students
Promise: Government to Spend 71m GHS to abolish fees
Calculation: Roughly 236 GHS per year per student, OR 19 GHS per month

Inference: Every Ghanaian Parent with a day student ward cannot afford 19 GHS per month, or 63 pesewas per day, for which reason government must pay for all of them.”
Franklin, your math lesson as demonstrated above is clearly suspect.
Here is a proper Math Lesson;
The projected enrolment for the 2015/16 academic year will be as follows:
First Years: 390,000 (4.2% above current enrolment figures)
Continuing Students: 480,697
Total Enrolment: 870,697
Cost of initial implementation for President Mahama’s Progressive Free SHS Education Programme for the 2015/2016 academic year is GHC71,152,275.
The cost to be borne by government includes: Examination Fees, Library Fees, SRC Dues, Entertainment Fees, Science Development Fees, Science and Math Quiz Fees all amounting to GHC75 for each continuing student.
For first year students, government will absorb all of the above in addition to Admission Fees and Report/Cumulative Records Fees which will bring their cost to be borne by government to GHC90 per student.
This policy intervention will make SHS education free for Day Students whiles it will significantly reduce the cost burden on boarding students.
Once I have cleared your mischief about the cost of President Mahama’s progressive free SHS programme, let me proceed to attempt answering the questions you put to His Excellency in you piece;
1. Please Sir, would you know the cost of items covered by the budget in 2015?
Answer: Yes, the President must know what items would be covered by the budget of 2015 and even beyond. Every serious government must have in place a medium to long term policy plan which would from time to time be captured in annual budgets for implementation. If you have a genuine appreciation of how budgets are prepared, you would not have asked this question in the first place.
2. Would you think the cedi would have performed better against the dollar for instance?
Answer: I do not know when you wrote your piece but I can tell you now that the cedi has on the average stabilized against all the major trading currencies. This is due to the regulatory measures taken by the Bank of Ghana since the strength of the cedi begun weakening at a faster rate last month. In any case, what has the performance of the cedi got to do with the implementation of progressive free secondary education?
3. Would you know the rate of inflation in 2015?
Answer: This question is empty and depressed. It is a blind question. In fact is it a ‘blank and zero’ question (apologies to Dr. Bawumiah).
Did you mean to ask about inflation rate for September 2015 when the education programme will commence? Or you sought to know government’s projected average inflation for the year ending 2015?
4. Would you think this attempt to spread what I consider misery equally in education and force parents who can pay a very democratic and prudent way of spending our hard earned money?
Answer: Another depressed question! In other words, you are questioning the importance of spending hugely on secondary education? Master, Secondary education is an important part of our education system. And President Mahama’s government has prioritized it as such.
Yes, cost matters! That is the main reason why framers of the 1992 constitution of Ghana puts in Article 25 (b) “secondary education in its different forms, including technical and vocational education, shall be made generally available and accessible to all by every appropriate means, and in particular, by the progressive introduction of free education;”
Mr. Cudjoe, is it your position that the framers of our constitution got it wrong?
It is the NPP’s wholesale and unrealistic policy that should have attracted your question. You should have written to Nana Akufo-Addo instead.
Chief, government does not owe feeding grants to second cycle schools in the North as you mischievously tried to create such an impression. As at the second week of January this year, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning had released a total of GHC50.4 million for the payment of feeding grants for SHS in the three Northern Regions and the northern part of Brong Ahafo and Volta Regions.
Your concern about the level of failure at the basic level is much appreciated. It is a serious problem that every government must take a look at. If we get our basics wrong, there is no need for progression. However, you were not fair to President Mahama when you failed to also appreciate measures taken by the President to improve on quality education.
Under President Mahama, about 12.5 million text books have been distributed freely to basic school pupils nationwide. Construction and rehabilitation of science resource centers programme is underway. The provision of other teaching and learning aides, free school uniforms for deprived communities, etc. have all been intensified.
You also know about the measures taken against teacher absenteeism, the conscious drive to remove schools under trees and the teacher distribution rationalization programmes.
Mr. Cudjoe, as for your permutation on the construction of the remaining 150 schools between June 2015 and December 2016, the least said the better. Did the President say that he would start the construction of the remaining schools only after the completion of the first 50?
I end here. Thanks for your attention.
But did you describe yourself as a ‘Policy Referee’? Tweeaaa….
Your Colleague citizen of Ghana
Brogya Genfi