Ghana does not need Free SHS system- Lawyer Anokye Frimpong

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Lawyer and Historian, Anokye Frimpong, says Ghana is not ready for a free senior high school system.

According to him, the free senior high school has failed to operate.

His comments come on the back of the Finance Minister’s mid-year budget review delivered to parliament.

The free senior high school programme (SHS) and the technical and vocational education training (TVET) are not under review, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta said on Monday, July 25.

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But speaking on GTV’s breakfast show, Anokye Frimpong, described government’s decision not to review the Free SHS as a “political mistake”. 

“It’s a very very big political mistake, especially if I should center on the SHS. You see, Ghana really does not need a free and I say across-board free senior high school system.”

He stated that the free SHS should be centered on the vulnerable and not the general public. 

“Certain people must be identified as those who need help in order to be given free education. And it’s so simple. You see, I have my son in a certain preparatory school in Accra. I pay a term of 5000 Ghana cedis. In that same area, where my son attends school, there are people, or students, paying over ¢10,000 a term. So even mine is modest. So when my child leaves for SHS, where the fee is less than ¢1,500 cedis a term, and you say it is free. It does not affect me in any manner. I do not appreciate it in any manner, and I can assure you, there are thousands upon thousands of people in the country like me. Are you saying that judges’ children, lawyers’ children, Kennedy Agyapong, MPs, etc., children should go to school free? No, you are not serious. But those Kayayei people whose children attend public schools and do not have money for trotro every morning,” he said on Tuesday, July 26. 

The lawyer, however, suggested that there should be a system in which the free SHS benefits the poor more.

“It is so easy to identify them because when you are filling your BECE forms, the headmaster will make a remark and specify the fees you pay. So if it’s a government school, it’s automatic free education.” 

For example, if a preparatory school charges, let’s say up to ¢1,500 a term, automatically those wards should go to school free. Beyond that, they should pay. In every country, we tax the rich more in order to assist the poor. But for political reasons, you say everybody’s child should go to school for free. And the question is all those taking exgratia, their children are benefiting. The Kayayei people in the street, their children are also benefiting, but is it fair? Even on the aeroplane, we have three compartments. Those who can afford it will travel first class. Those with means will travel in business class, while those like you and me will travel in economy. And it is still the same aeroplane. When you enter any hotel in the world, it is not a standard fee that you pay. It depends on where your pocket can send you,” he added. 

The historian reiterated that free education in the SHS has failed and needs to be reviewed. 

“I think that it will be a very great disservice to taxpayers in the country if we do not review the SHS system when we know that it is so failing to the extent that our children go there, they don’t have food to eat, and where they are given a little food to eat, within two, three weeks, they come back to stay in the house for a very long time before going back. When we do something which is unfair and unhelpful, and you are changing, initially you may feel very bad. There is nothing wrong about it, he said. 

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