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General News of Sunday, 19 November 2017

Source: citifmonline.com

Voluntary Fund for Free SHS needless – Carbonu

The incoming President of the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), Angel Carbonu, has criticized government’s plan to set up a fund to receive voluntary contributions to support its free Senior High School programme, saying “I can assure you that it will not solve the problem for which it was established.”

Speaking on Citi FM’s news analysis programme, The Big Issue on Saturday, Mr. Carbonu said government must instead find sustainable ways of funding the free SHS programme.

“You cannot be certain the amount of contributions that will come, and without certainty you cannot plan,” he explained.

The Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, while presenting the 2018 budget statement to Parliament on Wednesday, said government is in the process of setting up a fund to receive voluntary contributions from individuals to support the implementation of its flagship Free Senior High School programme, and the education sector as a whole.

The move has been criticized mostly by members of the minority who say it has exposed government’s inability to secure the needed funding to sustain the programme.

Mr. Carbonu also reiterated earlier claims by some civil society organisations that the over GHc1 billion budgetary allocation for the free SHS programme in 2018 is “woefully inadequate.”

“Let me say that, information getting to me indicates that, we do not even have the full complement of even the 20 percent that has to go to the schools. The amount of money quoted as the budget for free SHS, when you put all the items on the table, it does not cater for all the needs… There is the need for us to sit down as a people, and stop this I want to look good mantra, and let us tackle the hard core issues – to provide for ourselves resources to be able to run our country. What we are doing is the blanket doling out of people to go to senior high school, and it will not be sustainable in the future,” he cautioned.

The incoming NAGRAT President also called on government to channel its attention to basic schools in the country, which are severely challenged in many areas.

You can’t rely on voluntary contributions for Free SHS- Ablakwa

National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament for the North Tongu Constituency, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, has said the government cannot afford to rely on voluntary contributions to fund education, particularly free SHS, as projections for those funds may not materialize.

According to Ablakwa, putting a lot of expectations on money which would be accrued from the fund could backfire as it may not appeal to Ghanaians enough to voluntarily contribute to it.

“No country runs public education on just voluntary funds. What if the Fund is not considered attractive and you don’t really get as much as you are expecting. We can’t leave the destiny of our children’s quality education to just a voluntary fund where we don’t really know the projections. You cannot just depend on voluntary funds, you can’t run education that way. You need a concrete plan and you need a well-defined funding source. It’s clear that government is struggling to fund it and struggling to identify a clear funding source.”