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General News of Monday, 22 June 2020

Source: rainbowradioonline.com

You’re insincere, cost of WASSCE not independent from free SHS - Apaak jabs Akufo-Addo


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The Member of Parliament for Builsa South Dr. Clement Abas Apaak has taken a swipe at President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for stating that his announcement of the government to absorb the cost of WASSCE exams for final year students was the first time it has occurred.

The legislator in a statement referenced a story published by Ghanaweb which they sourced from 3News in 2019 about government’s decision to absorb the costs of WASSCE exams for final year students.

Dr. Apaak describing the statement from the president as shocking quizzed why the president could state it was the first time such a thing has occurred.

”As far back December 2019, on or about the 15th of that month, Ghanaweb sourced a story from 3News under the heading “Govt absorbs WASSCE fees for first batch of free SHS students”, link provided here (https://mobile.ghanaweb.com/…/Govt-absorbs-WASSCE-fees-for-…). The very announcement yesterday, was contained in this publication of 19th December 2019.

It makes one wonder how this very issue stated some seven (7) months ago, has resurfaced in a COVID-19 update of 21st June, 2020 when Ghanaians are expecting specific measures aimed at fighting the virus,” his statement read.

President Akuffo Addo in his 12th address on measures to contain COVID-19 to the state announced absorbing the registration fees of 313,837 students from 1,167 schools across the country with am amount of Gh¢75.4 million.

” For the first time in our nation’s history, the Government will absorb the WASSCE examination fees of the three hundred and thirteen thousand, eight hundred and thirty-seven (313,837) SHS 3 students who will sit for the exam. GH¢75.4 million will be spent on this,” the president said.

But reacting to this, Dr. Apaak noted that the free senior high school policy which the government introduced had already taken care of the examination cost hence the president announcing this as a new initiative was insincere.

”It must be stated clearly that the cost of examination is part of the cost of education. And, having rolled out the free SHS programme, it was expected, a given, automatic, inter alia, that the specific cost of examination is embedded in that and was expected to have been budgeted for as a component of free SHS.

It is for the above reason that yet another announcement seeking to suggest otherwise is insincere. Indeed the free SHS budget, which funds everything to do with the programme, including fees and examination cost, (separate from the budget of the Ministry of Education), was approved by parliament Mr. President. And this had nothing to do with the COVID-19 pandemic,” he

Meanwhile, the legislator has asked the government to stop taking advantage of the COVID-19 to score political points and deal with the outbreak.

”The fight is clearly giving way to campaign messages, which is very unfortunate for our country at this crucial moment. Ghanaians woke up on Saturday to a spike in the number of recoveries in COVID-19 from a little above four thousand on Friday, to over ten thousand by evening of Saturday.

The specific cause of this spike, which many have described as a miracle, has not been fully accounted for, nor explained. These are the issues that are of great and significant importance on the platform the president mounts to update citizens on measures taken so far.

Smuggling in issues dealt with many months ago to score political points, rather depletes the interest Ghanaians carry to sit by their television sets each time to listen to the President.

What did our President think the Ghanaian parent who was told is being offered free education expect of him? Was he in any way expecting that they were waiting on him to announce the cost of examination at WASSCE? Was the cost of WASSCE examination excluded from free SHS from day one?”

Read his full statement below:

STATEMENT – COST OF WASSCE EXAMINATION NOT INDEPENDENT OF FREE SHS MR. PRESIDENT

Since March this year, Ghana has had to grapple with the devastating effects and threats of COVID-19. The virus, which has swept many lives across the world and is shaking the foundations of economies, has received international attention with governments adopting and modifying strategies aimed at handling the global pandemic in a manner that would minimise its impact on their respective countries.

As expected, the government of Ghana, through the President and a handful of his appointees, have engaged the general public in their quest to keep our compatriots updated while providing guides in line with the World Health Organisation’s developed protocols.

Ghanaians have, particularly, waited on specified times to listen to the President, Nana Akufo-Addo for directives and statements meant to provide first hand information on government’s interventions.

Gradually, this important platform, has given way to partisan politics, losing focus on the purpose for which the platform came into existence.

We can all understand that there is election ahead of the President, but, the fight against COVID-19 must remain paramount as it has a clear potential to affect and shift the gears of our population.

Yesterday, June 21st, 2020, the President made an announcement to the effect that government will absorb the cost of examination of final year Senior High School students who are expected back in school to complete their various courses.

Here is what he said: “For the first time in our nation’s history, Government will absorb the WASSCE examination fees of the three hundred and thirteen thousand, eight hundred and thirty-seven (313,837) SHS 3 students who will sit for the exam”. To this end, he stated that some Ghc75.4 million has been budgeted to cater for this line of expenditure.

As far back December 2019, on or about the 15th of that month, Ghanaweb sourced a story from 3News under the heading “Govt absorbs WASSCE fees for first batch of free SHS students”, link provided here (https://mobile.ghanaweb.com/…/Govt-absorbs-WASSCE-fees-for-…). The very announcement yesterday, was contained in this publication of 19th December 2019.

It makes one wonder how this very issue stated some seven (7) months ago, has resurfaced in a COVID-19 update of 21st June, 2020 when Ghanaians are expecting specific measures aimed at fighting the virus.

The fight is clearly giving way to campaign messages, which is very unfortunate for our country at this crucial moment. Ghanaians woke up on Saturday to a spike in the number of recoveries in COVID-19 from a little above four thousand on Friday, to over ten thousand by evening of Saturday.

The specific cause of this spike, which many have described as a miracle, has not been fully accounted for, nor explained. These are the issues that are of great and significant importance on the platform the president mounts to update citizens on measures taken so far.

Smuggling in issues dealt with many months ago to score political points, rather depletes the interest Ghanaians carry to sit by their television sets each time to listen to the President.

What did our President think the Ghanaian parent who was told is being offered free education expect of him? Was he in any way expecting that they were waiting on him to announce the cost of examination at WASSCE? Was the cost of WASSCE examination excluded from free SHS from day one?

It must be stated clearly that the cost of examination is part of the cost of education. And, having rolled out the free SHS programme, it was expected, a given, automatic, inter alia, that the specific cost of examination is embedded in that and was expected to have been budgeted for as a component of free SHS.

It is for the above reason that yet another announcement seeking to suggest otherwise is insincere. Indeed the free SHS budget, which funds everything to do with the programme, including fees and examination cost, (separate from the budget of the Ministry of Education), was approved by parliament Mr. President. And this had nothing to do with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Signed.

Dr. Clement Apaak
M.P, Builsa South and Deputy Ranking Member on the Education Committee of Parliament
June 22, 2020

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