The Minority in Parliament has refuted reports suggesting that they are opposed to the implementation of the free senior high school education policy by government.
According to them, their concern has had to do with what they call a shift from the campaign promise of providing free education to all SHS students to just first-year students.
This, for them, means continuing students will have to pay full fees for until they complete school.
“It will really go against our records having always fought for education to be a right and not a privilege,” stated Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Member of Parliament for North Tongu Constituency of the Volta Region said on the Super Morning Show on Joy FM, Tuesday.
“I know that it would really have been the president’s wish that they would have fulfilled this promise as [he] put out during the campaign but [when] they looked at the books [and] they looked at the state of the economy…they decided to opt for this scenario which is to do it in a progressively free manner,” the former Deputy Education Minister clarified.
President Nana Akufo-Addo launched the free senior high school policy -one of his flagship policies- today at the West Africa Senior High School at Adenta in Accra.
Then in government, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) rather favoured a “progressively free” education system because they believed that a completely free education could only be realised after the infrastructural challenges facing the education system were fixed.
The NPP government has, in accordance with then candidate Akufo-Addo's campaign promise, started implementing the policy.
The Minority, led by Haruna Idrisu on Monday, raised a number of issues he believed could potentially harm the successful implementation of the programme.
Explaining the issues, Mr. Okudzeto Ablakwa said they would have preferred that government implemented the policy as dictated by Article 25 of the Constitution.
Article 25 (1) (b) states: "secondary education in its different forms, including technical and vocational education, shall be made generally available and accessible to all by every appropriate means, and in particular, by the progressive introduction of free education;”
Okudzeto Ablakwa said the opposition has not, and will never kick against free education... "It is important that all of these suggestions which are coming from well-intentioned members of the society and the minority are not misconstrued.”
“We are not saying that we are opposed to a programme that we started. We would have had a different kind of implementation strategy which would focus on the vulnerable and keep quality in mind,” he explained.
The big goof
Earlier, a Deputy Education Minister, Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum had described the claim by the Minority that 30% of admissions had been reserved for children of party functionaries as “a big goof”.
Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum
According to Dr. Adutwum, the government deliberately reserved 30% space in top SHSs for students from public junior high schools relatively lower grades to be admitted into those schools.
“So we did the 30% public school enrolment programme to ensure that 30% of students who attend the top schools come from public schools from anywhere in the country,” the Deputy Minister clarified.
Play audio to listen to excerpts of the discussion: