It appears that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government is ready to climb down from the high horse of Free Senior High School propaganda and touch base at terra firma as Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia admits that the program is an albatross.
At a lecture that was held at the University of Cape Coast yesterday, Dr. Bawumia admitted that while education is free in some countries around the world, Ghana is struggling with Free SHS.
The admission which left a surprise in the air at Cape Coast has fearfully come in less than a month after the government launched FSHS in September leaving a specter of the government caving in under the program.
Just on September 12 2017, the NPP government had launched Free SHS in Accra amidst fanfare. The launch, which had side stepped a progressive implementation of the same program by the predecessor Mahama government, had been done while giving cold shoulders to concerns raised about a hasty implementation.
As part of the mess, the program has an Ambassador and a logo but no blue print or implementation manual.
Even worse, FSHS had been rolled out without piloting with the government only managing to furnish only 20% of requisite funds towards the program.
The thoughtlessness of the program immediately showed with huge problems with the Computer Placement system emerging while parents whose wards have been posted far away from them have been constrained to rent hostels at heavy cost to them.
Daily Graphic, Ghana’s main broadsheet, has since also reported the emergence of syndicates which operate by acting together with heads of so called first class schools to reserve places for parents willing to pay exorbitant amounts to have their wards admitted.
But in all this, the biggest of the question is the sustainability and funding sources with the government already broke and borrowing to pay salaries.
Interestingly, at yesterday’s lecture Dr. Bawumia, who had spoken on the topic, “Developing Stronger Economies for Africa,” claimed that the missing link in Ghana is productivity and inclusiveness, and that the digitization and the Free SHS are what the government is using to fix the problem.
But Prof. Samuel Kobina Anim, an Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Cape Coast, blamed the government for not listening but rather speeding on the wheels of propaganda to roll out programs.
For instance, a program as crucial as Free SHS had not been piloted!
Prof. Anim also blamed Dr. Bawumia for not comparing figures, even though he is an economist, saying the Vice President also failed to provide real policy alternatives.
Prof. Anim also told Dr. Bawumia that his views on economics are not acceptable.
Interestingly, Prof. Anim is said to be an NPP sympathizer.
Now that the Vice President has his bubble punctured he is expected to see that even in rich countries like the Almighty USA, where education is mostly free, government does not take responsibility for the uniforms and Boarding facilities of students.
Indeed, in the US, students go to school from home and dress in their own clothes. Parents who wish their wards to school from boarding facilities pay for such facilities.
At the same forum which is dubbed the ‘Advancement Lecture Series’, Chairman of the UCC Council, Nana Sam Brew Butler, said to the face of Dr. Bawumia that Ghana’s Founder is none other than her First President, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.
To laughter and applause, Nana had also made it clear to Dr. Bawumia that the UCC itself is also the handiwork of Osagyefo.
The reminder comes at a time that the NPP government has supplanted President Nkrumah, with founding members of the NPP’s political tradition, as Founders of Ghana.
Interestingly, these so called Founders had resisted Ghana’s independence struggle.
Meanwhile, a student described Dr. Bawumia’s take on Ghana’s economy as akin to the observation of a stranger and an outsider who does not know the facts.
In response, the Vice President, who had been hailed as an economics whizkid in the buildup to the 2016 elections, said he could not do anything about heat in the classrooms unless he tells President Akufo-Addo to do one classroom, one air conditioner.
Some people could not help pouring scorn on Bawumia for claiming that his government wants Ghanaians to be made owners of Ghana’s mineral resources, even though this is the same NPP government which has taken Exton Cubic, a Ghanaian company’s bauxite concession from it and given it to the Chinese.
Again, Dr. Bawumia’s claims that because of the paperless system at the ports and the interbank payment system, Ghana has become a knowledge economy, was disputed by Prof. Kobina Anim.
Dr. Bawumia also claimed Ghana’s Identification system is the best in the world.