Free SHS funding debate must continue unabated

BY: daily graphic
Free SHS funding debate must continue unabated
Free SHS funding debate must continue unabated

Education is the bedrock of every economy.

An educated people are able to help spin the wheels of development faster.

Out of education, many find jobs because, aside from working for others, some educated people are able to set up their own businesses and run them effectively.
In times past in Ghana, there were many who were unable to continue their education beyond junior high school because of the lack of funds.

Thousands dropped out through no fault of theirs and governments had, over the years, not been able to find a lasting solution to that canker.

As a result, many found themselves doing what, under normal circumstances, they would not do because they have no option.

It is against this background and more that the present government deemed it fit to introduce the Free senior high school (SHS) Policy to pave the way for students at that level to pursue their dreams, without allowing the lack of funds to hinder them.

The implementation of the policy, which started last year, has been a little problematic due to financial challenges and the mere size of the students taking advantage of the opportunity.

Today, there is a two-track system in place, a development some people are against because of the perceived impact on the students and quality of education.

The GRAPHIC BUSINESS has closely monitored the argument for and against aspects of the policy and finds the arguments put forward necessary in view of the fact that the outcome can help make the policy sustainable in terms of funding.

To the government, there is no turning back because of the strong belief that the best investment a country can make is to invest in the education of the people.

While we support this view, we also believe that opening up to the public and listening more to their views will also help enhance the policy.

For instance, the call by some parents, mostly the affluent in society, for the government to create a transparent and viable avenue for them to pay their children’s fees is apt and must be considered.

The budget for the policy is huge and if care is not taken, all the money available within the economy will be used in funding Free SHS, while quality, which we all yearn for, will be lost, at least in the short term.

We know that the government means well and would not want the policy to churn out quantity but quality as well.

Against this background, we urge that while the debate rages, the government should quickly set up a special unit that will take care of mobilising funds from parents and other institutions that intend to help fund Free SHS in the country.

The head of such a unit, when set up, should be somebody who is not partisan but an educational and financial expert with strong management skills to manage the funds.

Political heads of such institutions often turn to satisfy the whims and caprices of the ruling government and what normally happens is that when there is a change of government, the head is also changed.

That is what has set many of the well-intended programmes of governments backwards.

We can mention the management changes at the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) and the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) as a few of the institutions which have been unduly politicised.

We need a strong educational system to help transform the economy faster than we anticipate and the role of governments in ensuring that cannot be over-emphasised.

It is our prayer that all parties in the debate will share ideas without malice and political emotions because what has been started should not be made to die.

The Graphic Business/Stanbic Bank Breakfast Meeting has set the stage as far as the debate is concerned and we hope it will continue. — GB