Chairman of the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC), Dr. Steve Manteaw, has stated the size and strength of Ghana’s economy can sustain government’s free senior high school programme.
He said that the GDP of Ghana at the time of the implementation of the free SHS programme was 37.5 billion dollars compared to that of Uganda – the first African country to implement and sustain the programme eleven years ago – which was 12 billion dollars.
Uganda’s Gross National Income (GNI) per capita was US$380 in 2007 when it introduced the programme, while Ghana’s was US$1,480 at the time it introduced the programme.
It’s GDP in 2015 was US$27.529 billion, while Ghana’s was US$37.54 billion, a difference of 10 billion dollars.
Also, the Gross National per capita for Uganda in 2015 was 700 dollars while Ghana’s was 1,480 dollars.
Uganda does not have any significant resource endowment, apart from oil, which was discovered in 2007 and is yet to earn even a dollar from its oil.
It has been financing its free secondary school programme mainly from tax revenue and with some donor support.
Speaking at the Daily Graphic/STAR Ghana National Dialogue on Education in Takoradi in the Western Region, Dr. Manteaw stated that there is every economic indication that Ghana can be able to sustain the free senior high school programme.
“Uganda does not have any significant natural resource endowment. They don’t have the gold, the bauxite, manganese and the rest. All they have is lake Victoria and the Nile River,” he said.
He added that “recently in 2007, around the same time Ghana discovered oil, Uganda also discovered theirs. But they are yet to earn even a dollar from their oil as they are yet to start production”.
Dr. Steve Manteaw noted Uganda has been able to implement and sustain their free senior high school from taxes and a bit from donors.
“What do we [Ghana] have as a country; bauxite, gold, manganese, diamond, oil as well as taxes. So if we are not able to implement and sustain the free SHS, then it is a serious indictment on us in terms of how we are managing our natural resources for the benefit of our people,” he suggested.
He mentioned Uganda has instituted several innovations which have helped sustain the programme for the past eleven years.
For instance Dr. Manteaw said in Uganda, students who obtain set benchmark grades in each of the four primary school-leaving examinations are automatically allowed to proceed to study free in public schools and participating private schools.
“Government also pays schools, an annual grant of $52 per student, spread over three school terms. The amount covers fees and text books, while parents are made to provide uniforms, stationery and meals” he said.
Dr. Manteaw suggested that children of CEO’s, MP’s and Directors of public institutions be excluded from the beneficiary list.