Let’s Build National Consensus on Funding Free SHS – Ablakwa

62

A former deputy Minister for Education, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa is calling for a bipartisan approach in how best to fund the free SHS policy.

According to Mr Ablakwa, the Minority’s estimates that the total amount required to fund the Free SHS policy is about one billion dollars and the source of revenues government is currently targeting may not be enough to resource it.

“First of all we need to know how much free shs will cost us. We need to look at the pointers NPP gave, oil receipts and other natural resources. How much is available with our oil receipts. We must know what the NPP will be paying for. We have put out our estimates that the NPP needs one billion dollars for the full implementation of the Free SHS… The natural resources such as gold and bauxite are finite. The population will increase, we will need more schools as we will have more SHS students.”

Mr Ablakwa is also surprised at the Education Minister, Dr. Mathew Opoku Prempeh’s decision to strip the Tamale Technical University of its current status.

Yesterday, Dr Mathew Opoku Prempeh who spoke to a section of the media after the inauguration of the free SHS policy said his hands are tied because the previous administration rushed through the process.

“We don’t create a technical university on paper there is a conversion process, when you finish the process successfully it has to go to parliament for the parliament to accept and change the law. The law in parliament that governs the technical university speaks about only six technical universities, and you expect me a member of parliament from Manhyia south to go and flout the law? Where will you be when I am called for flouting the law”, he said grudgingly .

But Mr Ablakwa said he is disappointed in the manner in which government is handling the issue.

“Cape Coast and Tamale Polytechnic did not initially meet the criteria. When we passed the law in parliament we created room for an administrative inclusion at the Ministry of Education anytime they meet the conversion criteria, and they did meet the criteria and have been upgraded. But I hear that the Minister is saying because their names are not in the la thw so they have to wait. There is really no need. At the time we went six had made it. They did meet the criteria. We have served notice to parliament that once the law is passed, we don’t want a visit to the parliament anytime a polytechnic meets the criteria so there was room.”

He suggested: “I think that the national council for tertiary education must step in. Professor Salifu knows what has gone on and has institutional memory to inform the Minister and his team., they are not being fair to Tamale and CapeCoast Polytechnics. He should avert  shouldhis mind to the handing over notes. He should not be destabilizing the polytechnic and university space. We should focus on helping Wa and Bolga on how they can also quickly meet the conversion critera.”