FUNDING FREE SHS AND SHARING COST
HOST: The matter of Free SHS, thus far, per the Budget that was read by the Finance Minister, we’ve spent a little over GHC 3 billion on the flagship program Free SHS. Three years after running it, should we begin to look at how we fund it, and the matter of ‘Means Testing’ that was suggested a couple of years ago for the effective run of it, considering that if you look at the budget, 35% of the revenue we’re to supposed to generate will go into interest payments, another 30% into payment of salaries. Should we begin to share the burden of free SHS?
ADUTWUM: “What burden are you talking about?”
HOST: In terms of Funding the program – Means Testing
ADUTWUM: What are you using for means testing? You brought it up so maybe you have some suggestions.
What I know in this country is that my brother who is a plantain farmer makes more money than the Chief Director of the Ministry of Education but if we use means testing with Income taxes, the Chief Director of the Ministry of Education will have to pay school fees for his children.
HOST: What about those who Opt to Pay?
ADUTWUM: Argh..If you want to pay, go to any school and give your money to the headmaster. What is your problem? If you want to pay, go to Achimota, if your child goes there, give the money to the headmaster and say headmaster, don’t receive money from the Ministry of education for my son, and we’ll applaud you for it”.
HOST: So that option is available?
ADUTWUM: Argh..who said it’s not available? Has any headmistress refused your money? If you want to give your money to the headmistress and say madam Headmistress, I love your school, don’t accept the money for perishables, don’t accept the money for car vehicle maintenance, I am paying it – the headmistress won’t drive you away. She won’t drive you away.
HOST: So in terms of sustaining the program, you think all is fine? The oil revenue is just about enough
ADUTWUM: let me tell you one thing. We live in a beautiful country called Ghana. This is the only country where the government says I will do it and I will deliver and the people are saying- media people like yourself are saying No No No, you can’t.
HOST: No! That’s not what I’m saying. I am referencing the budget and the fiscal difficulties.
ADUTWUM: The Budget, the budget, the fiscal difficulties- In spite of all this, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo has done the impossible for this nation. In the midst of the Pandemic, Money is still going to schools. In the midst of the pandemic, children are in school and they are being fed. Do you remember the Northern school feeding grant program that was there before Free SHS? Did you hear how many times headmasters threatened to shut down schools because money is, was not coming?
Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo deserves our commendation for the able manner in which he has managed the free SHS and made sure logistics are provided, school uniforms are provided, all the things that the students need to stay in school are provided and I’m not going to sit here playing the ‘Revisionist game’, talking about their hardships. Their hardships. The headmasters are in school and we are providing everything they need to be in school.
The first time we provided four core textbooks for every child. We’ve also provided elective textbooks for SHSs. When you talk about the management of SHSs, Ghana’s SHSs have been managed in a way comparable to any, anywhere in the world and probably better than many nations in the world. How many nations in the world do free SHS with boarding? We have 70% boarding and has done that consistently and this is the fourth year. This president is determined to bring about transformation through education and he is doing that and I think the good people of Ghana should commend him for the work that he is doing and those of us who do the ‘Monday quarterbacking’ should be able to look at what we do and be able to say that arr, this president has done something unique and yet there are some things we need to improve. But when I hear the ‘sky is falling and that free SHS is coming to a halt, who said so?
ADUTWUM: No! not you. I’m talking about the ‘Monday Quarterbackers’. I wasn’t referring to you
HOST: Okay! Who are those By the way?
ADUTWUM: Argh. You don’t know…..