NDC not against Free SHS bill; improve policy – Minority tells govt

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The Minority in Parliament has announced its support for the Free Senior High School (FSHS) Bill, pending its presentation to Parliament. This move aims to dispel speculation that the National Democratic Congress (NDC) plans to cancel the policy if it forms the next government.

Member of Parliament for Builsa South and Deputy Ranking Member on the Education Committee, Dr. Clement Apaak, in a statement, emphasised that the Minority is not opposed to FSHS and welcomes the proposed bill, which would bind future governments to continue the policy.

He referenced former President John Dramani Mahama’s commitment to improving the implementation of FSHS, addressing challenges such as inadequate infrastructure, poor food quality, and erratic academic calendars.

Mr Apaak stated that while the Minority awaits the bill’s details, they support the initiative in principle, aiming to ensure the future of FSHS.

The government is set to present the Free Senior High School (SHS) Bill to Parliament in the coming days, aimed at regulating the policy and ensuring its sustainability.

At a Leaders’ Media Briefing on Tuesday, June 11, the Majority Leader, Alexander Afenyo-Markin, disclosed the information asserting that the bill seeks to make the policy more effective and sustainable, aligning with the aspirations outlined in Chapter 5 of the Constitution.

Find below the statement by the Minority

WE ARE NOT OPPOSED TO A BILL ON FSHS BILL

We are not opposed to FSHS and therefore can not be opposed to a proposed bill to bind future government to it. As John Dramani Mahama noted during his meeting with the national leadership of CHASS on May 8th, 2024, he will work with them and all stakeholders to make FSHS better.

Our Flagbearer, John Dramani Mahama, has indicated time without number that, the FSHS policy is a good policy bedevilled with implementation challenges: inadequate academic and residential infrastructure; inadequate and poor quality food; inadequate furniture; erratic academic calendar, among others. John Dramani Mahama has pledged to address these challenges to make FSHS better.

So, while we wait to see the proposed bill and examine its contents in detail, in principle, we have no challenge supporting a bill seeking to ensure its future.

Dr. Clement Apaak
MP, Builsa South and Deputy Ranking Member, Education Committee of Parliament.

Read Also >>> Stop the hypocrisy and double standards; be clear on reviewing Free SHS – John Mahama to NPP

Meanwhile, Africa Education Watch (Eduwatch), a prominent educational policy think tank, has voiced concerns that the proposed government’s Free Senior High School (SHS) Bill is being positioned more as a political legacy than a sustainable educational reform.

The bill, which will soon be presented to Parliament, aims to regulate the policy and ensure its sustainability.

The policy, which has been a cornerstone of the Akufo-Addo administration, seeks to remove financial barriers to secondary education by covering fees, textbooks, boarding, and meals.

While the initiative has been praised for increasing access to education, particularly for girls, Eduwatch argues that the bill’s timing and the government’s approach suggest a focus on political gains rather than long-term educational benefits.

Speaking in an interview with Umaru Sanda Amadu on Eyewitness News on Citi FM on Tuesday, the Executive Director of Eduwatch, Kofi Asare said the Free SHS policy had already been covered under the Pre Tertiary Education Act for which reason he did not understand why the government wanted to have a new law on it.

He also noted that the bill was the least of the challenges the policy faced that required urgent attention.

“I am a bit lost because in December 2020 Parliament passed a law called the Pre Tertiary Education Law which is Act 10(49). This law which was assented on 29th December 2020 has free SHS captured under section 3 which says that ‘Secondary education in its different forms including TVET shall be free and accessible to all eligible candidates. So this provision in the pre-tertiary education law is to give legal effect, is to give binding effect.”

“…I think that perhaps the only reason is, it is a legacy reason. It looks more political legacy kind of style. But in reality, if you ask me the top 10 challenges or problems that require urgent attention on the Free SHS policy, the law would not be in the [space] of 10,” he stated.