Government is determined to severely punish, anyone whose action or inaction impacts negatively on the smooth implementation of the Free Senior High School (SHS) programme, the Vice President has warned.
Alhaji Dr Mahamudu Bawumia said government would move beyond naming and shaming to the actual prosecution to deter any saboteurs.
He was speaking at the 50th-anniversary celebration of the enstoolment of Nana Boakye Tromu III as Omanhene and President of the Duayaw Nkwanta Traditional Council in the Brong Ahafo Region on Saturday.
The Veep with Nana Boakye Tromu III
“We need to ensure that no Ghanaian child is denied access to public secondary education. Poverty should not be a barrier for children to have access to a better future,” he said.
Dr Bawumia lamented how despite government's efforts to get Ghanaians educated, some people are scheming to draw back the programme.
“In the last few months, we have had reports of deliberate attempts by some individuals ranging from matrons, heads of institutions, and others attempting to circumvent the regulations and stealing materials intended to benefit the children who are in their care. This is unacceptable,” Dr Bawumia stated.
A rare photo opportunity with the Veep
The Free SHS policy, which is a major flagship programme of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government began in September 2017.
Over 400,000 children are currently benefiting from the programme, according to the Ministry of Education.
However, there have been reports of pilfering by some school authorities of the free food supplied by government, as well as the charging of unapproved fees by some school heads.
The Police Criminal Investigations Department has invited Comfort Oduro Bruce, senior matron and Reverend Abraham Donkor, headmaster of the Ghana Senior High School (GHANASS) to assist in investigations.
This was after Madam Bruce was allegedly caught by a member of the school’s security attempting to cart away a number of food items at night.
The Veep greetings some people at the event
Also, matrons at the Buipe and Tolon SHS have also reportedly been arrested for allegedly trying to steal and sell food meant for the feeding of first-year students in their care.
Mincing no words, Dr Bawumia said, “government is determined to punish severely wrongdoers and those who have made it a habit to steal and or to obstruct.
“Actions to curb the situation should not just end at the doorstep of naming and shaming but also with prosecution, where applicable.”
Touching on the genuine challenges confronting the programme, the Vice President assured that government was working round the clock to address them.
“While there may be challenges with the implementation of the Free SHS programme, government has taken note of the problems and is working feverishly to address,” he said.