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Opinions of Sunday, 17 September 2017

Columnist: Koku Anyidoho

Questionable blanket free education: Capitalists mocking themselves into utopian Socialism?

Last week, we heard the current President of Kwame Nkrumah’s Ghana blurt out; “All hail free education”!

According to the President and his followers, education is now freeeeeeeeeee!!!!
Phew!!!

Is education really free in Ghana?
Nana Akufo-Addo and his people must be thinking that we have so soon forgotten the exact promises they made on the campaign trail when they were making all kinds of ugly noises and promising to give Ghanaians “FREE EDUCATION UP TO SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL”.

I have been combing through the 2016 Manifesto of the NPP and precisely in CHAPTER 9, which deals with the policy on EDUCATION, the NPP stated categorically that they will provide “FREE EDUCATION UP TO SENIOR HIGH”.

On page 104 of the Manifesto, inter alia, “The NPP believes that all the hopes of Ghanaians for a bright future will come to naught unless the country is able to resolve its education crisis. That is why the NPP declares Education to be a MAJOR PRIORITY and commits itself to a BOLD, CREATIVE and VISIONARY and ALL-EMBRACING PROGRAM for the TRANSFORMATION OF EDUCATION IN GHANA.

The core elements of the Program shall be a free education for Ghanaian children UP TO SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL (caps mine) to ease the burden on parents and guardians while encouraging them to assume their responsibility for the social upbringing and parental control of their children”.
In simple and plain language, the NPP promised to give us free education from kindergarten UP TO SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL.

Indeed, when the President recently appeared at a Speech and Prize Giving Day ceremony at the Okuapamen Senior High School, he reiterated the point that education was going to be FREE from kindergarten UP TO SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL.
In no time; and knowing that it CANNOT give free education from kindergarten up to senior high school, the NPP used its media machinery to hide the manifesto pledge of FREE EDUCATION UP TO SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL, and kept drowning our eardrums with FREE SHS; FREE SHS; FREE SHS.

Realizing that even the FREE SHS is not financially feasible, the NPP now decided to drown our eardrums with FREE SHS FOR FIRST YEAR STUDENTS.
So, I ask; where is the FREE EDUCATION UP TO SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL, that the NPP loudly trumpeted on every rooftop and on every mountain top?

Does the NPP think that its media propaganda that FREE EDUCATION has started, is what will make education free in Ghana?
Even with the first year students; is their education really free?
Are parents still not buying; trunks, chop box, sandals, uniforms, cutlass, hoes, brooms, toiletries, mattress, blankets, bedsheets, church cloths, etc? Wherein lies the free education?

So just because government is absorbing tuition and feeding fees, that is enough to be trumpeting free education to the high heavens and claiming victory where there is no victory?
Besides, is this the first time that a government has absorbed feeding and tuition fees? Certainly not!!!

It is crystal clear that the NPP; which is a RIGHT WING party, has run into a cul-de-sac with its capitalist ideas and so is engaging in populist rhetoric to score very fleeting and cheap political points.
The NPP is trying too hard to be more SOCIALIST than the SOCIALIST NDC, and the result is that the NPP is making a mockery of itself by engaging in Utopian Socialism.

Even hard-core Marxist Socialist do not believe in Utopian Socialism so it is no wonder that the NPP is running itself into a world of MOCKERY by its dreamy attempt to create an IDEAL WORLD OF FREE EDUCATION.
When capitalists try to outrun socialists via socialist-oriented policies, it becomes akin to the case of “the invited guest crying more than the bereaved”.
Political parties all over the world, are driven by Ideologies and are inspired by a cluster of principles and philosophies.

The NPP has NEVER believed in any form of SOCIAL DEMOCRACY so it is amazing how they are in a hurry to implement Socialist oriented policies.
The NPP is very much aware that when it comes to the area of EDUCATION; the NDC has an unparalleled and impeccable record.

From President Rawlings, through President Atta Mills, to President Mahama, the NDC’s outstanding record in the education sector CANNOT AND CAN NEVER be matched by the NPP.

It is this knowledge that the NPP CANNOT match the Education Sector record of the NDC, that is forcing the NPP to engage in this kamikaze FREE EDUCATION which has no HEAD nor TAIL.

I have had personal engagements with lots of School Heads who are deeply concerned about the rush to implement a policy that has no HEAD nor TAIL.
What is all this NONSENSE about Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs), not being allowed to pay dues? Ahba!!!

Are PTAs not voluntary associations? Since when did it become a crime for Voluntary Associations to pay dues?
The NPP has found itself in a deep mess because as part of its campaign of noise-making and empty propaganda, they promised to absorb all PTA dues as part of their FREE EDUCATION pledge.