Review free SHS especially the feeding aspect – Bright Appiah tells gov’t

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The Executive Director of the Child Right International (CRI), Mr Bright Appiah has said the government will need to review the Free Senior High School (Free SHS) programme.

He said the review should focus especially on the feeding aspect, not necessarily the programme itself.

Mr Appiah said this on the New Day show on TV3 Monday July 18 when he was asked by host Johnnie Hughes whether the government should have a second look at the policy.

Answering the question, he said “There is a need for a review but as to the level of review, we would have to look at it in a context because there are two options available for government to implement social intervention programmes, school feeding is one of the typical social interventions programmes.

“So government had the opportunity to roll [free SHS] out in a progressive manner, as and when you do it then you identify the issues and resolve them before you scale it up.

“But this time, government has decided that on the basis that everybody pays tax, there are certain general social policies that everybody must enjoy. So government believes that one of the ways everybody can have access to social intervention is through the free Senior School programme.

“So on the basis of that, the government has decided to roll it out on a whole sale. Once you do that, then you are giving yourself the opportunity to correct the anomalies as you move on but, it doesn’t change the main policy.

“The review process must look at the structure of the whole school feeding programme, that is what we need to be doing now, not necessarily to say that we will want to now bring it back to pilot to make it progressive, we have attained that level already. If there is anything that they need to review, it is the structure of the whole school feeding programme.”

Mr Appiah joins other personalities including former President John Dramani Mahama and former Rector of the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) Professor Stephen Adei who have called for a review of the programme.

Prof Adei for instance said “We have to look at it again. I think that there are certain schools which we should make autonomous and fee-paying and people will go there, but then make sure there are good community schools for everybody else,” he told Joy News.

“Only a small proportion of the poor come to Achimota, let the rich go there and pay. Use the Achimota funds to have very good schools in every district so that they can be there and don’t have to travel.”

Mr Mahama also assured Ghanaians ahead of the 2020 elections that he would review the policy if he was voted for.

Speaking at a meeting with the leaders of the Ghana National Council for Private Schools (GNACOPS) he noted “within the first 90-days after I take office as the president of Ghana, I will call for the arrangement of a very broad stakeholder and consultative meeting on the way forward for a better free SHS.”

“The NDC shall ensure that all issues raised which are feasible and doable will be factored into the NDC manifesto,” he said.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in 2017 launched the Free Senior High School Policy in fulfilment of his campaign promise in 2017.

“Today, we throw open the doors of opportunity and hope to our young people… We have a sacred duty to our children and the generations beyond in ensuring that, irrespective of their circumstances, their right to education is preserved,” the President said to an ecstatic crowd at the West Africa Senior High School premises at Adenta.

He added ““I want every Ghanaian child to attend secondary school not just for what they learn in books, but for the life experiences that they will gain. I want each of them to look in the mirror in the morning, every morning, and know that they can achieve anything they dream of when they complete their studies.

“I want them to be confident that what they study is relevant to the demands of today, and of tomorrow. I want every Ghanaian child to be comfortable in the knowledge that, when they work hard, they will be as capable as anyone else in the world. And I want parents to look upon their children with pride, as they watch them mature into self-confident adults,” the President said.

By Laud Nartey||Ghana

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