FREE SHS IS TO MOVE NATION Forward ‘Mahama’s submission is an affront to development –lawyers
News Desk Report
At his delayed encounter with the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) on Thursday, transitional President John Dramani Mahama told the nation that the time was not right for the implementation of fee-free education for second cycle institutions.
He said the Constitution spoke of a gradual programme to achieve the fee-free status for second cycle students, and that the policy could not be implemented when facilities were not ready.
In Accra, two lawyers The Chronicle spoke to both disagreed with the Presidential interpretation of the Constitutional requirement on fee-free second cycle education. Mr. Kwame Akuffo, a prominent Accra-based lawyer, told The Chronicle that fee-free second cycle education was a pre-requisite to the development of the nation.
Second cycle education would open the way for beneficiaries to train further and aid the manpower needs of the nation, Mr. Akuffo opined, arguing that a child who terminated his education at the junior high school level was not endowed to be of much value to society generally.
He said the free education policy introduced by Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah had benefitted the nation to a great extent. “We are inspired by that policy as a nation. That is why we should improve upon it and extend the benefits to all children in Ghana who qualify. That would present this society with a large pool of staff who stand the chance of improving on their lot,” he told The Chronicle.
Mr. Akuffo said the Constitution, in its own wisdom, recommended action to ensure that free secondary education was realised. “I do not believe as a nation that we should compromise on this. Free SHS education, should be key in this nation’s efforts at development, and the time to implement it is now.”
Mr. Kofi Dua-Adonteng, one-time President of the National Union of Ghana Students and now an Accra-based private legal practitioner, narrated his encounter with a young girl selling mobile phone units at the High Court premises in Accra, and an ice water seller, who were both clever in their own right, but could not access Senior High School facilities, because their parents could not afford the fees.
“Education is a right and not selected amnesia,” he fumed. “The Constitution is clear. It mandates the State of Ghana to ensure that both basic and second cycle schools, in all their forms, are free to students.”
He said after 20 years of operating the Constitution, the time was nigh for the implementation of free SHS. “Free and compulsory education at both basic and secondary level is a process. It is funny and bizarre for the President to claim to be sticking to the Constitution, which enjoins the nation to ensure that children benefit from both basic and second cycle education without any financial obligations,” Mr. Dua-Adonteng stressed.
Under Article 24 (1) the 1992 Constitution states: “All persons shall have the right to equal educational opportunities and facilities and with a view to achieving the full realization of that right (a) basic education shall be free, compulsory and available to all (b) secondary education in its different forms , including technical and vocational education, shall be made generally available and accessible to all by the progressive means, and in particular, by the progressive introduction of free education.”
At the Wa Campus of the University of Development Studies, Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia asked whether the late Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah provided all facilities before beginning the northern scholarship scheme, from which the President Mahama and leading ministers benefitted.
“When we say we are bringing free, quality education to the people of Ghana, the NDC goes around saying we cannot do it, and we ask why? At the time Nkrumah brought free education to the north, there was only one middle school. If Nkrumah had gone by the argument of the NDC, we would not have had the free education in the north,” said Nana Akufo-Addo’s running mate.
At the offices of The Chronicle, Editor Ebo Quansah said the NDC should feel ashamed of talking down on fee-free education at the second cycle level at a time the government the party props up had doled out $47 million of state money to a Chinese company in return for T-shirts for their campaigns.
“It is a scandal for which they should pay big time. This nation has moved from the era when the state of Ghana funded three parties to ensure that the NDC and its presidential candidate won a flawed election.”
Short URL: http://thechronicle.com.gh/?p=48651