Free SHS not consistent with 1992 Constitution — Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom
The ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) will officially roll out its flagship free senior high Sschool (SHS) educational programme with a launch on Tuesday, September 12, 2017.
But the Founder and 2016 Presidential Candidate of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom, has observed that the free SHS programme currently under implementation by the NPP is not consistent with the 1992 Constitution which places emphasis not only on free education but compulsory and continuous as well.
“It does not matter who and which political party implements the constitutional provision of free, compulsory and continuous education from kindergarten to the end of senior high school. Whether it is the ruling NPP, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), or the PPP that introduces the scheme, what matter most is that it is a constitutional provision which must be obeyed and adhered to,” Dr Nduom argued.
Chapter 5 of the 1992 Constitution on Fundamental Human Rights and Freedoms, Clause 25 (1) states that all persons shall have the right to equal educational opportunities and facilities and with a view to achieving the full realisation of that right.
Clause 1 (a) states that basic education shall be free, compulsory and available to all, while clause (b) also states that secondary education in its different forms, including technical and vocational education, shall be made generally available and accessible to all by every appropriate means, and in particular, by the progressive introduction of free education.
In an interview in Accra on Tuesday, Dr Nduom insisted that it was long over-due for Chapter 5 of the 1992 Constitution on Fundamental Human Rights and Freedoms, Clause 25 (1) Sub Clauses (a) and (b) to be fully implemented.
According to him, issues related to education were in the Constitution but was worried the compulsory nature was muted.
“If you become a President of the nation, you are obligated to uphold the Constitution of the country. If we all stay committed to the Constitution and implement it to the letter, that will be okay.”
“It means we are implementing the law of the country,” he posited.
Different educational policies
According to Dr Nduom, while the NDC was talking about progressive free education, the NPP was insisting on free senior high school but when they were challenged, they shifted the goal post since it was not their programme.
Accordingly, it was only the PPP that was consistently talking about the compulsory, continuous and free aspect of educating the Ghanaian child from the basic to senior high school level, Dr Nduom asserted.
On funding, the business magnate cum politician said the cost of having many children un-educated was far higher than to have our children educated.
“Let the people understand that the cost of not implementing this constitutional provision is far higher,” Dr Nduom stressed.
In his view, if the country sets its priorities right, it could fund the programme smoothly.
“Every day we read in the media about some money wasted either through corruption or whatever. There is a lot of money out there going waste and if we set our priorities right, we can fund the scheme,” he underscored.
“Let’s train more teachers, provide more teaching materials and facilities and we can make education free in the country,” he stated.
Free SHS education
The NPP will officially launch its flagship free SHS education on September 12, 2017. It will cost the government about GH¢400 million to implement the free SHS programme for the 2017/2018 academic year.
Four hundred and twenty four thousand and ninety two (92 per cent) Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) candidates qualified to be placed in SHS and would benefit from the free SHS programme.
A total of 36,849 candidates, which represents eight per cent of candidates who sat the BECE, failed to secure placement because they scored grade nine in either English or Mathematics.