Gov’t Won’t Cut Funding To Free SHS, Others

The Senior Advisor to the President, Mr. Yaw Osafo-Maafo, has assured that government will not cut budgetary funding to the education sector, despite the current economic hardship.

He said government will also not touch its flagship Free Senior High School, though suggestions to improve its implementation are welcome.

The former Senior Minister, who mounted the spirited defense at this year’s National Education Week, held yesterday in Accra, said suggestion to cut funding to the policy and education, in general, was regrettable, especially so, because of the caliber of people making the proposal.

Mr.Maafo argued that if there is any area government need not touch its funding to, then it should be the education sector, considering how critical it is to nation development.

“There is a call for expenditure cut on education and indeed I have read articles from very educated people. This call is not coming from our illiterate population.

“This call for even stopping the Free SHS is not coming from people who are very well educated. I certainly disagree with them.

“If you are in difficulty and our difficulty to me is temporary, it is a difficulty that even the whole world is going through, the reasons are obvious. If there is any sector that we should not touch its expenditure, that sector is education,” he said.

According to the former Education Minister, the sector is a priority to the Akufo-Addo-led government because it sees education as a tool for development, rejecting outright, calls to cut funding to save the economy.

The experienced politician, whose comment is a reaction to earlier suggestions from certain quarters, said the calls are misplaced in his view.

Government spends averagely between 4.5 roughly 5 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and between 17.6 and 24 percent of its national budget, on education between 2019 and 2021, he explained.

The Senior Advisor said this, compared in Africa, is the highest on the continent.

Mr.Osafo-Maafo said the reason given for budgetary cut suggestions was baseless because the current economic hardships are temporary, assuring that it will be surmounted in no time.

The one-time Minister of Finance said the administration will continue to pump money into the sector to reap its full benefits.

The former Senior Minister, who represented the Vice President, Dr.MahamuduBawumia, at the programme, said that, aside from government making the biggest budgetary allocation to the sector, this is the only government that has operationalized the Article 38 of the Constitution.

“The government of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, since January 2017, has contributed significantly to the growth of human capital through the investment made in education. Since the onset of the 4th republic this is the only government that has operationalized and delivered under the tenet of Article 38 of the 1992 constitution of the republic of Ghana.

“The operation includes formulation of the Education Strategic Plan 2018, 2030 introduction of free SHS, Equitable Provision of Infrastructure at all levels and at all categories of education,” he added.

He said that the Free SHS policy will not be touched, but will continue to support many who hitherto would have remained at home because they have no money to finance their secondary education.

The Senior Advisor to the President also shot down speculation that government may be forced to scrap the Free SHS programme by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

While welcoming suggestions to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the policy, Mr. Osafo-Maafo said, even though government is currently seeking a bailout from the Fund, he was insisted the Briton Wood’s institution will not “touch” the policy.

He said the policy will not be “sacrificed,” as a result of the temporary economic downturn, adding the IMF will not scrap it because it believes in education.

“The proponents of the expenditure cut have failed to appreciation that, a well-educated Ghanaian is the best productive investment the nation could ever boast of. Indeed, the implementation of free SHS is the only programme in education, since independence, to achieve dual success of equal access to secondary education for all Ghanaians, and securing maximum benefits for poor families across the country.”

A Deputy Minister of Education in-charge of General Education, Rev John NtimFordjour, on his part, said the government in the past six years has made heavy investments in the sector.

He said stakeholders in the sector have assisted in making these in rolls, but they must not be shy in celebrating, adding that there have been “key transformations in certain aspects of our education system.”

Mr. Fordjour said the situation, as it is, must go beyond “reform to real transformation,” but stressedthat the achievements so far must be recognized and applauded.

The Member of Parliament (MP) for Assin South constituency outlined increase in enrolments, increase to access, the attainment of gender parity at the basic level, the successful implementation of the free SHS programme, which has ensured that every year, over 100,000 Junior High School graduates are admitted into the Senior High School free of charge.

He said there have been major transformations in curriculum where the standard base curriculum has led to the distribution of over 6.7 million textbooks, as well as other investments and transformation in the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), making it very attractive.

This year, alone, over 45, 000 students were enrolled in the various TVET institutions, he said.

Despite the successes, Rev. Fordjour said there are “various aspects of our education system that need a lot of lifting and that can only be tackled with collective efforts.”

This year’s event, which started on yesterday October 10, will come to a close this Friday October 14.

The five-day programme, which is under the auspices of the Ministry of Education, is themed “Re-assessing education policies for effective service delivery and national transformation.”

The annual programme will be used to share expertise and experiences and also to deliberate through the week.

The Minister of Education, Yaw Osei Adutwum, who was not present during the opening ceremony, will join the programme in the course of the week.

Source: Anchorghana

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