…Over ‘Hasty’ Free-SHS
Hon. Sampson Ahi, Member of Parliament (MP) for Bodi, in the Western Region, has cautioned the Nana Akufo-Addo-led New Patriotic Party (NPP) government not to count its luck on borrowing excessively to supplement the budget to please what he described as, “hasty” implementation of the Free Senior High School (F-SHS) programme.
According to him, any attempt by the government to further borrow funds to support other key sectors would have serious consequences on the economy and that the minority in parliament would not sit down for the country’s economy to be run down.
“The government knew very well that our natural resources that they relied on to implement the Free SHS programme could not adequately fund to sustain the programme, yet they went in a hasty manner to implement it, but the question is what of the other sectors which are equally key to our economy?”
“I don’t know their plans, but if they intend to borrow more, it will not be good for our economy, borrowing more millions or billions will grind down our economy completely and we are not ready for that. I am sure the IMF will not even allow that and we, the minority, will not also sit down and allow that,” he stated.
Mr. Ahi made these statements when The Gazette caught up with him on the matter in parliament yesterday.
He told the paper point blank that, though he supports the idea of free secondary education for every Ghanaian child, he has the fear that, because the government wants to sustain the programme for political gains, it may neglect other key sectors, especially health, roads and other infrastructures, to keep the programme running.
While cautioning against any excessive borrowing, the Bodi MP, who is also the ranking member on the Works and Housing Committee of Parliament, said, going for more loans and bonds in millions and billions to run the economy would halt the nation’s progress economically, contending that, “Ghana has no such economic capacity to absorb more billions of loans to the system to run the economy, our economy will break down.”
In his view, the sustainability of the Free SHS programme could not have been a big problem if the government had started with the needy students and those from deprived communities, adding that, with that, the government could have more funds to run other key economic-driven sectors, especially health and roads infrastructure, which remained key to the needs of the people.
Mr. Ahi also took a swipe at the government for leaving out the private schools in the Free SHS programme, noting that every Ghanaian child deserves the free education package, irrespective of the school they found themselves.
He pointed out that, the inclusion of the private schools could have helped to reduce most of the avoidable challenges some parents are currently encountering in getting hostel accommodation for their wards, having been placed in schools, where there is no adequate dormitory or none at all.
For instance, he said, since the cost package of the free school programme was known by the government, the simple thing was for the government to allow every student who qualified, to be admitted, including those in private schools and the fees and others paid.
With that, he said, in the case of the private schools, parents then owed it a duty to pay the difference if there is any so that the challenges of accommodation and not getting school for admission under the Computerized Placement of Schools System (CPSS) could have been reduced, if not avoided altogether.
He added that the Free SHS programme launching would not have been possible in the first place if the E-block Community Day Senior High Schools by former President John Mahama of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) was not in place.
The MP also expressed the fear that, allowing parents to rent accommodation facilities outside the schools for their wards could possibly breed more indiscipline and other social vices if immediate measures are not taken.
The government and the Ghana Education Service (GES), he added, should take immediate steps and to find best ways to house such students who could not get accommodations on campus.
This, he said, would prevent students allowed to rent hostels in town from getting themselves involved in criminality, while living in towns or influence same onto their peers in schools.
Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/Felix Engsalige Nyaaba