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Opinions of Thursday, 27 February 2020

Columnist: K. Badu, UK.

If teachers and nurses allowances were too expensive to manage, what about free SHS?


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“The introduction of Free SHS was not built on some pompous political agenda to grab social democratic narratives from those who surprisingly have shunned their ideology for quick wins (Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta 2019).”

Sometimes, one cannot help but to convivially applaud some of our politicians for their incredible adroitness in systematic propagation of propaganda intended to either hoodwink or proselytise unsuspecting Ghanaians into accepting their parochial agenda.

If that was not the case, how can anyone deliberately blame the ephemeral defect in the computerised school selection placement system on the implementation of the Free SHS?

Notwithstanding the seeming desperate attempts to discredit the policy, the fact remains that the social mobility improvement Free SHS will at least provide a sound and congenial environment for the students to develop to their full potential and to have a reasonable chance of leading productive and creative lives.

And more so in spite of the incessant shrieking and grumbling, by the year 2020, the NDC operatives will take back their needless criticisms when all the three levels of the SHS become free and the initial exigencies are brought to the barest minimum.

In the meantime, the disputatious NDC brassbound followers can choose to travel the length and breadth of the country and discredit the Free SHS in order to score cheap political points.

After all, didn’t the NDC operatives brashly campaign against the poverty reduction Free SHS policy during the 2016 electioneering campaign?

Indeed, it would only take a doubting Thomas to challenge the fact that the NDC faithful, who take pride in the social democratic ideology, are not in the business of promoting the welfare of the masses.

One would have thought that individuals who pride themselves as social democrats will be extremely empathetic to the needs of the masses, but this is not the case with the NDC as a party.

There is no denying or hiding the fact that the NDC has a penchant for running down or cancelling crucial social interventions with an unabashed disgust. It is a sad case of social democrats who do not know how to initiate and manage social interventions.

It is absolutely true that the erstwhile Mahama government either cancelled or collapsed the social interventions such as the nurses’ allowance, the teachers’ allowance, SADA, GYEEDA, NHIS, the maternal care, the school feeding programme, the Mass Transport System, amongst others.

So there is nothing out of the ordinary if the NDC operatives unblushingly put up fierce resistance against the seemingly advantageous Free SHS policy.

Let us admit though, education, as a matter of fact and observation, is fundamental to development and growth and therefore the pragmatic approach to improving accessibility and quality is not through the usual political rhetoric, but through well-thought through policies.

“Growth, development, and poverty reduction depend on the knowledge and skills people may acquire (World Bank 2011).”

Given the benefits therein education, it was extremely prudent for Akufo-Addo’s government to seek to bridge the ever widening social inequalities gap through rational distribution of national resources in the form of Free SHS.

But that notwithstanding, no less a person than ex-President Mahama could find it somewhat convenient to upbraid Akufo-Addo for judiciously implementing the Free SHS policy, supposedly, at the expense of other developmental projects (see: ‘Free SHS crippling other sectors – Mahama, classfmonline.com/ghanaweb.com, 24/02/2018).

Former President Mahama censured President Akufo-Addo during one of the NDC’s unity health walks: “The problem this government is facing and it is in their own interest is that Free Senior High School is absorbing all the fiscal space they have and so almost every money you have, you are having to put it into Free Senior High School. So you can’t pay District Assemblies Common Fund, you can’t pay NHIS (National Health Insurance Scheme), you can’t pay GET Fund (Ghana Education Trust Fund), you can’t pay other salaries and things because all your money is going into Free Senior High School.”

This is the reason why some of us share in the sentiments of those who insist that in the unlikely event of Mahama regaining the Presidency, he will most likely suspend the Free SHS.

We can, therefore, draw an adverse inference that Mahama does not fancy the Free SHS, and hence needlessly keep criticising its implementation.

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