Funding free SHS with oil money will affect other sectors – Lecturer

President Akufo-Addo with Vice President Dr. Bawumia after unveiling the Free SHS Logo[/caption] The government has been reminded that the use of the oil revenue to fund the Free Senior High School Policy (Free SHS) will affect other sectors of the economy. A Senior Lecturer at the University of Education, Winneba, in the Central Region, Dr. Ahmed Jinapor, who made the observation explained that “the question we [Ghanaians] need to ask ourselves is, the money that we get from these natural resources, are they lying idle?” The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Tuesday while launching the government’s flagship programme, “Free SHS” said Ghana’s oil revenue will be used to fund the Free Senior High School (SHS) programme which has taken off smoothly. Contributing to the debate on the funding of the programme on TV3’s New Day hosted by Bright Nana Amfoh on Wednesday, Dr. Jinapor said “it is a good programme but it is very important to critique the whole programme very well”. He wondered, “the money that we get from these natural resources such as the oil, are they lying idle? No. They are used for something…like the oil revenue…they are used for health, roads, infrastructure, so if the President says he is going to use it to fund free SHS, while we know that in law, the oil money is being used for something else, where are we going to get money to replace those ones?” Dr. Jinapor noted that “it is good that the President has indicated where he is going to get the funds from and it is also good to ask how much we get from the oil revenue because as we speak, parents are being charged in some schools”. “Where are the motivations for the teachers because the enrolments have increased and they have to do more work? What are you doing to expand the halls? The free SHS has come to stay so the debate as to whether it will happen or not is a thing of the past, the issue now is to how to critique and sustain it”. Child rights activist, Bright Appiah, who was also on the show called on the government to find other innovative ways of funding the programme if the oil money will not be enough for sustaining it. The Executive Director of Child Rights International said “there are other things that we should be looking at. If [funding with oil revenue] will be a problem, the state must be interested in how we get other sources of funding”. He said “corporate bodies must also come in to help. If we think the oil money is not enough, then of course, we need to target the corporate bodies and that will put to rest how we are going to fund it and what we need to investigate is whether it would be sustainable”. Mr. Appiah noted that “continuity is very important irrespective of who is introducing it and I do not envisage that government will find difficulty in funding such project”. The child rights activist noted that “by law, we have already allocated part of the oil money for some projects so if we are going to use part for the free SHS, then we need to know whether it will be sustainable because now, the policy is supporting only the first year students so from next year, we will move to the next level and we need to know if next year, we can sustain that”.

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By Kweku Antwi-Otoo|TV3||Ghana]]>