If you live in Ghana or were monitoring the electioneering events during our recent general elections, I am sure that you couldn’t have missed out on one key message that resonated throughout the whole country among a plethora of other campaign messages and slogans. This reverberating message was the issue of free Senior High School(SHS) education.
Though all the political parties had policies on education, almost all carried the same promise of free SHS with the exception of the NDC who initially rejected the idea outright as being unachievable yet were compelled to quickly recant their position after a sound bite of their flag bearer making the same promise of free SHS to Ghanaians as far back as 2008 emerged. In their attempt to save face and to mitigate their embarrassment, they grudgingly consented to the free SHS concept but with an added twist that they intend to implement it gradually over a certain time frame instead of its immediate implementation as proposed by the NPP.
Anyway, I’ll like to briefly address some of the populace objections that were leveled against the concept during the electioneering period.
Objection 1: It’s a desperate political gimmick intended to get NPP elected.
Well, it will appear so but not necessarily because, the concept is constitutionally mandated yet previous governments have failed to implement it whereas the NPP has identified our current educational need as a country as being dire and therefore has expressed a clear and urgent call to implement this policy now instead of some obscure future time! One may be suspect about their timing and even deem it opportunistic…but why not? Now is a good time as any other! It’s only that the NPP has made free SHS a matter of top priority and therefore bring it up for discussion at any given opportunity and rightly so!
Objection 2: There’s nothing free in this world. Therefore, ‘free’ SHS must be a hoax!
Well, I do agree that technically speaking, it’s not going to be free. Someone will have to bear the cost somehow in which case the NPP proposed that this cost must be borne by the government. So yes, to the government, it’ll certainly not be ‘free’ but from the perspective of the recipient, it’s certainly is free as the recipient is absolved from bearing the cost. It’s just like a student gaining a full academic scholarship. To such a student, tuition is free, but to the scholarship awarding institute, It’s certainly not free as they’re going to have to bear the cost(and the full one at that) to cater for the awardee. So here, I’ll simply summarize that it’s just a matter of perspectives!
Objection 3: It’ll cost too much so we cannot afford it.
This is the singular point which I deem as being worthy of any serious attention. The NPP were not forthcoming on how they intended to source funding for the implementation of the concept and this became their Achilles heel on which their opponents quickly cashed in to buttress their claim that the whole promise is one big gimmick. However, the NPP’s reticent attitude then didn’t seem to be much of a problem for me as I considered it a rather prudent act not divulging the nitty-gritty of how they intended to implement the concept for fear of their idea being stolen by their opponent. Moreover, I am assuming its implementation was most likely going to be on a pilot basis first in order to ascertain unforeseen challenges before it would have been implemented across the country.
Well, needless to say, the majority of Ghana’s electorate preferred the cheesy slogan “edey be kerrkerrr” of the NDC to the NPP’s “free SHS” which in my view is the more reason why we desperately need free SHS.
Though this discussion is rather belated, the matter of quality and affordable education for all is timeless and deserve frank and constructive discourse at anytime no matter which government is in power.
Long live Ghana!!