Did we think through this Free SHS thing well?

As many Ghanaians agree, providing free education at whatever level we deem fit is not a problem; but to rush into it without ensuring we have satisfied ourselves with how we are going to fund and make it sustainable is problematic.

We are a people who do not plan and plan well, and we are a people who do not take contrary opinion in good faith, and so whoever shares a contrary opinion to what we deem to be a full-proof idea is labeled and insulted. And so, here we are, toying with secondary school education again, just a few years after we bickered about the number of years of its duration.

Let’s call a spade by its name and not a big spoon; Nana Akufo-Addo’s Free SHS programme was poorly thought-through and so its implementation is causing sleepless nights for students and those who take care of them. Does anyone remember Ste

For the Finance Minister, the man who presides over the national kitty, to have come out to suggest the “freeness” of the new system should preclude those who can and are willing to pay, should summarise it all.

The fact is that our resources are meagre and cannot support an all-encompassing free SHS programme, especially when it is not as if we spent some time to prepare the grounds for it, by carefully thinking through funding means and putting in some level of infrastructure to accommodate the large numbers of students.

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Are we done giving Members of Parliament so-called loans just so they can buy and drive US$150,000 vehicles for us to have enough money to implement this programme? Are we done filling the parking lots of our MDAs with fuel guzzling V8 vehicles for us to be able to provide the needed infrastructure for our students?

As the Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC) has argued, we may have to reconsider this programme in order that we all can spare ourselves any self-inflicted difficulties. The government should, perhaps, now do the thinking it failed to do before rolling out the programme and come up with a workable approach.

Obviously, there is too much pressure on boarding facilities at the schools that have them. Who does not like freebies even when they have enough already? As an adage in local parlance would have it: even the sea would not reject an addition from the skies. Students who would have attended day school are all choosing boarding school now because it is “free” when resources and facilities cannot support them.

We therefore side with ISODEC that, perhaps, we should be looking at making parents pay for feeding at the boarding schools, which could compel some to opt for day school, thereby reducing the pressure on boarding facilities. We call on all Ghanaians who have ideas to share on this matter to come out and share them. And we call on those who have turned themselves into attack dogs ready to pounce on anyone who shares an idea contrary to what they hold sacred to spare us their hopeless overjealousness. Let sober minds prevail.

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