Former President, John Dramani Mahama ,has taken on President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, over the rash decision to implement the Free Senior High School (SHS) policy.
According to him, there was no consultation prior to the implementation of the policy against established norms.
Speaking at the end of a health walk organized by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in Tarkwa in the Western Region on Saturday, Mr. Mahama, said most policies introduced by former presidents, have been done after extensive stakeholders meeting.
He cited the GETFund and even the NHIS as being implemented after consultations with a wide range of stakeholders.
He said President Akufo-Addo, felt he was the only knowledgeable person in Ghana and so saw no need to consult anybody.
Hence, the problems with the policy, he said. He, therefore, advised the president to immediately call together stakeholders to brainstorm on the policy. “It is not too late,” he said in local language Twi.
The former president, said the policy’s failure would even be imminent with the announcement of a programme to get volunteers to fund it.
The Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, in delivering the 2018 budget and financial policy of the government, announced the setting up of a Voluntary Education Fund to finance education in the country. But Mr Mahama likened that to “collection” and said it “will not work”.
“Immediately, let’s call a national stakeholders conference on how to finance Free SHS.”
Recently, Dr. Amoako Tuffuor, admitted that the free SHS is fraught with numerous challenges and the earlier government addresses them the better for it.
“Like school feeding and all that. I once visited a school and witnessed it; there was this young lady I met. At the time, I noticed, she has eaten all her food, licked her plate leaving no grain. She didn’t eat her egg on the food either. As I stood to see what see what she was going to do with it, she put her egg in the mouth and brought it out again and put it in her pocket. So I went to her and said, ‘you didn’t eat your egg’. And the reply she gave me was, that is my dinner. At that moment, I wept,”he said.
Another NPP member and Private legal practitioner, Nana Yaw Osei, has alleged critics of the government’s flagship policy free SHS are being intimidated and victimized by the government.
According to him, some staff of the Ghana Education Service (GES), are intimidated and therefore are unwilling to come out publicly with challenges facing the policy.
Nana Yaw Osei on Kumasi-based Abusua FM, disclosed that he has been denied information about the number of schools across the country after writing to GES to help him with figures on the feeding programmes in public schools.
“I was denied such information by GES when I wrote to them to enable me write an article about the School Feeding Programme”, he claimed during a panel discussion on ‘Abusua Nkommo’.
“I suspect GES staff are intimidated not to give information out”, Nana Yaw Osei told host Kwame Adinkra.
According to the New Patriotic Party (NPP) member, the free education policy of the government, may not succeed if the current trend of feeding allowances is not resolved immediately.
Meanwhile, the Director General of the Ghana Education Service (GES), Prof. Akwasi Opoku-Amankwah, says the project is suffering because some heads of various schools are being economical with the truth and have also not presented accurate reports needed by government in the execution of the policy.
Speaking in an interview with Hello Fm in Kumasi, he explained that, in recent reports received by GES, his office noted, a particular school requested for facilities which were already available to the school. But in an attempt to resolve it, it was realized that, most heads of schools have repeated similar requests.
“Just recently, when going through reports from some schools, we realized requests made by authorities had already been provided. So we decided to go through about thirty schools we suspected similar occurrence. When we visited those schools it was revealed that, for instance, a school which requested for dormitory already has it, instead, you could realize they needed a dining hall”. Mr Amankwah said.
Meanwhile, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Effutu, Alexander Afenyo-Markin, has suggested that it would be unwise for any political party to consider scrapping the Free SHS policy, as such a move would not endear it to Ghanaian voters.
According to him, given the level of impact the policy had made on parents who have been relieved of the financial burden of their wards, any party that attempts to cancel the policy would face a backlash from the populace.
“It will be suicidal for any political party, winning power tomorrow, to attempt a form of repudiation abandoning this laudable initiative. Although people criticise the Free SHS, in reality, they are benefitting,” Afenyo-Markin said on Eyewitness News on Friday.
He was responding to concerns that had been raised that the policy could be scrapped should another political party come into power.