When Does Free Goodies Become Expensive?


When Moses rescued the Israelites from the cruelties of Pharaoh, and were being fed by God through Manna, at some point, they told Moses to tell God, they have had enough and want a change of diet.

There were thus challenged when Manna stop falling to fend for themselves. Nothing happens by accident, the almighty God knew that a day, will come when they will be the need for them to till the land to feed themselves.

In this country despite the abundance of everything we are still hungry. We have rendered ourselves incapable of doing anything meaningful because of the accident of our geographical location.

I believe we are not challenged because we have everything. One can cultivate anything at his backyard, even tomatoes and peppers our mothers throw away, when they are cooking germinate.

Apart from God, who did not intend us to be poor when he placed us on this side of the earth, politicians have also contributed significantly to our poor and sorry state.

Our first president, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, was the one who set the stage for the provision of free things by our politicians. He was justified, because when Ghana attained independence in 1957, many of our people were not educated. The literacy rate was low that, most of our state institutions were
still headed by the British.

He needed to encourage parents to send their children to school; the students themselves were to be motivated to buy into the idea of abandoning everything to go to school. The society had to buy into the concept of having an educated workforce.

So it was for every good reason that, he introduced a lot of free things to encourage and motivate both parents and students, but what is the justification today.

Some decisions and promises being made today by the two major political parties, will have implications for the future generations, because most of the promises are only for political capital.

The I’s have not been properly dotted and the T’s crossed before coming out with those free policies. We must create an economy that will afford every parent an opportunity to be able to send their wards to any school of their choice. We cannot all attend the best school in this country, the best schools depend on affordability, the best school depends on the product coming of that school.

The two major political parties are outdoing each other on which party, can provide the freest things, when that, might not be what Ghanaians really want.

The provision of free education, has only achieved one leg of the purpose for its introduction, i.e. increase in enrolment, but over the years quality has been sacrificed on the altar of free education.

I believe that, it is better to educate few people, who can change the fortune of this country, than this wholesale education, with poor quality and no significant achievement.

We should not be talking about quantity, when we cannot guarantee quality. Today, it is a trite fact that, most parents send their wards to private schools for their basic education.

Most of those kids end up in the best secondary schools run by the government; the kids who go to public basic schools end up in mushroom secondary schools or don’t progress at all.

The reason is simple, the government, does not have the resources to adequately provide for all the basic schools in the country. Supervision is also poor, because the numbers are just too many to manage, or because it is free, even the teachers do not attach any seriousness to their job.

I wrote an article in the run up to the 2012 elections, when Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and his New Patriotic Party (NPP), promised free Senior Secondary education. I registered my options and gave reasons why I thought that, policy though laudable, the timing was wrong.

This country is not an island, we are not isolated from the rest of the world, many countries have experimented with it and have failed. Why we want to try something that has failed in other jurisdiction baffles me.

Examples came up for mention in 2012, yet to my surprise when President, John Dramani Mahama, won the 2012 election, he decided to introduce a policy that was fiercely resisted and condemned by the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

I was once again compelled to write another article to register my disagreement, once again to the policy.

Already, the wage bill is draining everything we make as a country; we have to depend on our multi-lateral and bi-lateral partners to be able to balance our budget. The huge wage bill is what has necessitated the decision to put a freeze on government employment. Simply put we do not have enough money for most of the free promises our politicians are promising.

The cost in the long run is too huge for the country, cost not in terms of monetary, but we are going to hang the future of our children in the balance. Imagine closing down schools because the government is not able to pay the monies needed for the smooth running of those schools.

The example of the schools in the three regions in the north, where every year, either the students are sent home for non-payment of feeding grant or the headmasters, have to threaten to close down the schools, before monies are released.

This problem predates this government, yet our politicians are still promising free things, they need to apply some breaks and start thinking about the generations, who are going to bedeviled with their penchant for promises.

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