As the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government puts the cart before the horse by unveiling a logo, in addition to an offshore brand Ambassador, for the flagship Free Senior High School program, it has emerged that the logo was plagiarized.
The emblematic design, which presents a fauvist depiction of two happy school children expressing joy from being beneficiaries of the program against a background of an open book, was apparently purloined from Shutterstock.com, a blog belonging to a global technology company.
At Shutterstock.com, the original version of the logo is openly published with the two happy students similarly exploding with joy over a book.
A comparison of the two logos shows that the designer of the Free SHS logo had been creatively lazy, as the differences in the two logos, including the fact that the book in the background of the Free SHS logo is only slightly more leafy than the original Shutterstock one, are only minimal.
In that original shutterstock image which is labeled “School,” a combination of green and dull orange sums up its colour spectrum, as against the Free SHS logo, in which the colour spectrum is made up of red, yellow, green and black.
The apparently plagiarized Free SHS logo has in addition to its labeling, “Free SHS” at the top, a kicker of three words – Access, Equity and Quality – beneath.
Since the unveiling of the logo at the Flagstaff House by the President last Thursday, many people have questioned the necessity of giving an emblem to Senior High Education that has long been in operation.
It has also been wondered, the cost that was incurred on the public purse for the superfluous window dressing, even as a policy document on the Free SHS, which was promised by the NPP in as far back as 2008, is still not available.
Prior to the unveiling of the logo, a so-called brand Ambassador had been unveiled by the Ministry of Education for the policy. Interestingly, Abraham Atta, the Ghanaian born American movie star, who is the face of the policy, lives and schools in the United States and not Ghana.
The government has said that the Free SHS programme, scheduled to start this month will see that government absorbs the full cost of public secondary education.
Under the free SHS policy, beneficiaries will not have to pay admission fees, library fees, science centre fees, computer lab fees, examination fees and utility fees, according to the government.
The policy is also to cover agricultural, vocational and technical institutions at the secondary school level.
But while a smiley President Akufo-Addo had announced at the official unveiling of the policy’s logo at the Flagstaff House that the program would start in two weeks, a policy document on Free SHS is still unavailable.
The Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) has since said the program might be undermined if issues relating to funds are not addressed before it is rolled out.
The largest teaching body lamented that the Education Ministry has refused to make funding available to the schools ahead of the arrival of fresh students, despite repeated calls.
Acting GNAT President, Philippa Larsen, last week told Joy News that heads of schools will be cash-strapped if the ministry does not reconsider its position.
“You know that in this particular package as soon as the students report you have to make sure they are accommodated, [and] are made comfortable in terms of feeding so a certain percentage [say] 20 or 30 could be released,” she said.