Feature Article of Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Columnist: K. Badu, UK.

The danger facing the expedient free SHS sustainability is NDC!

Free SHS Logo Free SHS logo

Evidentially, an accessible and quality education has been the backbone of many advanced countries on the planet earth.

Therefore, it can never be deemed as short-sightedness or shiftiness if any forward-thinking government decides to roll out free SHS to the benefit of its citizens in adherence to the international human rights provision on free secondary education, which is encapsulated in Article 13 of the International Covenant on Economics, Social and Cultural Rights.

But despite its associated benefits, the minority NDC operatives have been squalling, grouching and opposing the poverty alleviation free SHS for opposing sake.

Dearest reader, if the NDC operatives are not against the free SHS, how could they keep fighting so hard to discredit the associated benefits of the newly implemented free SHS?

The poverty alleviation free SHS policy, as a matter of fact, reinforces the United Nations vision on human development and the right to development.

Indeed, as the international community heads toward implementing and monitoring the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals agenda, the human development approach remains useful to articulating the objectives of development and improving people’s well-being by ensuring an equitable, sustainable and stable world.

In hindsight, human development – or the human development approach- is about expanding the richness of human life. It is an approach that is focused on people and their opportunities and choices.

In actual sense, human development focuses on improving the lives of people rather than assuming that economic growth will lead, automatically, to greater wellbeing for all.

In other words, human development is about giving people more freedom to live lives they value. In effect, this implies developing people’s abilities and giving them a chance to improve upon their lives.

It is , however, worthy of note that the United Nations Declaration on the Right to Development unequivocally acknowledges development as a right and puts people at the centre of the development process.

This is exactly what Akufo-Addo’s free SHS policy is seeking to do. It is anticipated that the policy will at least create a sound environment for the students.

In hindsight, the Declaration on the Right to Development clearly states: “development is a comprehensive process with a view to improving “the well-being of the entire population and of all individuals on the basis of their active, free and meaningful participation in development and in the fair distribution” of the resulting benefits.”

And more so Article 55 of the United Nations Charter addresses the need to promote higher standards of living, full employment, and conditions of economic and social progress and development, with a view to fostering stability and well-being (UN 1945).

It is, therefore, extremely baffling to see some people vehemently protesting against Akufo-Addo’s government’s estimable strides to improve the social mobility through implementation of poverty reduction policies such as free SHS, one district one factory, one million dollars per constituency, tax reductions, a dam per village in the northern part of Ghana, among others.

Make no mistake, dearest reader, given that the erstwhile NDC government left a huge debt amid economic collapse, it would only take a committed, serious and forward-thinking management and a visionary leadership to choose to implement the seemingly beneficial, albeit costly social intervention policies.

And given the circumstances, the free SHS scheme could only be sustained under the aegis of a serious, a committed and a prudent leadership.

It is, indeed, anticipated that social mobility improvement free SHS policy should at least provide a sound environment for the beneficiaries to develop to their full potential and to have a reasonable chance of leading productive and creative lives.

Let us therefore admit, the opposition NDC’s never ending and needless protestations against the free SHS are becoming extremely nauseating, so to speak.

Well, much as the minority NDC operatives are on a mission to appease their ever so peeved party supporters, they cannot continue to play on the minds of discerning Ghanaians.

As a matter of fact and principle, some of us cannot be hoodwinked or proselytised by the minority NDC’s gratuitous and sugar-puffed declamations.

“Being in Opposition is not just about opposing the Government. “There are occasions when the Opposition agrees with the Government, if the solution proposed by the Government has wide support, and is soundly based, then it’s only natural for the Opposition to agree (Dr Brash).”

How on earth would a supposedly responsible opposition keep convening at breakfast lounges with a view to playing down the associated benefits of the newly implemented free SHS?

Regrettably, however, we (Ghanaians) have over the years been handing our destiny into the hands of terrible economic managers, who have only succeeded in sinking the economy deeper and deeper into the mire.

If we stroll down memory lane, the previous NPP government pragmatically introduced social interventions such as the free Maternal Care, the School Feeding Programme, the National Health Insurance Scheme, the Mass Transport System, the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP), the National Youth Employment Programme, now known as GYEDA, the Savana Acceleration Development Authority (SADA) amongst others.

Disappointingly, however, the erstwhile NDC government succeeded in running down those crucial social interventions to the dismay of discerning Ghanaians.

Dearest reader, this is not an attempt to hyperbolise the sorrowful state of the aforementioned social interventions following NDC government’s eight years of mismanagement.

But if anything at all, we can all bear witness to scandalous corruption cases involving SADA, GYEEDA and how the other social interventions were managed abysmally under NDC government.

You would think 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 apparatchiks.

Bizarrely, though, they only sing along the social democratic rendition and then turn their back on the masses. It is an illustrative case of social democrats who do not know how to initiate and manage social interventions.

I bet, should Ghanaians make a catastrophic mistake and hand over the poverty alleviation free SHS programme back to NDC Party in the near future, the supposedly social democrats will gleefully revert the comprehensively free policy to their much touted ‘progressively free’ (whatever that means).