Political Scientist, Professor Ransford Gyampo

A Political Scientist at the University of Ghana, Professor Ransford Gyampo, has urged government to consider a review of its flagship Free SHS policy, by allowing those who can pay to do so.

The suggestion by the lecturer was in reaction to the measures by government to address the current economic difficulties in the country.

Speaking in an interview with Raymond Acquah on UpFront on Thursday, Professor Gyampo stated that, even though he’s pleased with some of the austerity measures, which were announced by the Finance Minister on Thursday, he believes that there is more that could have been done.

In this regard, he stated that, the Free SHS policy is one of such initiatives which should have been modified to lessen the burden on government’s treasury.

“Several proposals have been made, but government may want to still stick to its Free SHS project. But why won’t you allow those people who can pay to pay? And then also, if that is not the case, why won’t we limit the Free SHS to only day students? So everybody gets Free SHS but those who want to lodge there, who want to enjoy boarding facilities, to pay for those boarding and lodging.

I think these would help to ease the pressure on our public purse. And I was hoping that this will feature in the measures that were proposed. But it appears government cannot do it all, but at the same time, it is refusing to accept help from people who genuinely want to help to make sure that the system is improved”, Professor Gyampo said.

He added that, as of now, the programme is fraught with a myriad of challenges, which affect effective teaching and learning across the various second cycle institutions in the country.

Ranging from the absence of limited infrastructure to shortage of food and other setbacks, pupils who are enrolled under the Free SHS programme are faced with a lot of inconveniences, and hence the need for government to embrace a revision of the policy.

Touching on the decision by government to wean-off public tertiary institutions in its expenditure, Professor Gyampo said the idea is a welcome development. In his view, the calls for government to allow public universities to run their own affairs is long overdue.

According to the lecturer, if this is done, public universities will have the opportunity to determine their own fees structure that will help them in their expenditure, including the payment of lecturers. On that note, he disclosed that during the just ended UTAG impasse, this was part of the suggestions his colleagues and himself hinted.

Professor Gyampo however stated that, the problem with most leaders is their lack of will to implement the plans they put on paper, and therefore he will be watching to see how government will roll out the plethora of austerity measures which were outlined by the Finance Minister on Thursday.

Addressing the press on Thursday, the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Attah, disclosed a series of measures, which according to him will help in getting the economy back on track. As part of his delivery, he stated that, public tertiary institutions in the country will be weaned-off government’s payroll.

He noted that the institutions would rather be provided with a fixed amount “block grant.”

The Finance Minister, however, did not give details of this policy. A block grant is an annual sum of money allocated by central government to a state agency to help fund a specific project or programme.

However, on the Free Senior High School policy, he disclosed that “President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has absolutely no intention to roll back on a major policy like Free SHS.

We see education as the best enabler for sustainable economic growth and transformation and will do more to improve on it for it to serve more and better our children”.