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SEND-Ghana takes on gov’t over ‘unsustainable’ Free SHS funding

The government’s decision to set up a Voluntary Education Fund to finance the Free senior high school (SHS) education policy has triggered some criticisms from educationists and other organisations.

Development organization, SEND-GHANA has said the alternative source of funding the ‘ambitious’ programme may not be sustainable.

SEND-GHANA Director of Policy and Advocacy Programme, Clara Osei Boateng told the media Wednesday no one would be able to predict the money that would be generated through that process.

She said the unpredictability of the Voluntary Education Fund could jeopardise the implementation of the Free SHS.

But Clara Osei Boateng has asked the government to provide further details on how it intends to operate the Fund.

SEND-GHANA’s challenges about the Fund, directly followed similar ones raised by the Ghana National Education Campaign Coalition.

Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta announced last week government would set up a Voluntary Education Fund to enable Ghanaians to “make voluntary contributions” towards education.

The decision was communicated during the presentation of the 2018 Fiscal Year Budget, two months after the implementation of the Free SHS education policy.

The programme is estimated to cost the country ¢3.6 million yearly, but political opponents said it is financially unsustainable.

The Fund was part of proposals made by Ghanaians, Mr Ofori-Atta had said.

But Chairman of the Ghana National Education Campaign Coalition, Bright Appiah said the Fund cannot solve funding challenges of the Free SHS.

“If the government is calling for a voluntary contribution fund, then it raised uncertainty in terms of how the government is harmonizing some of these scholarships that existed already and how it can feed into the larger policy scheme,” he said.

SEND-GHANA believes an immediate resolution of its concerns about the Voluntary Education Fund will save the country from running into financial difficulties in 2018.

"We all know that ever since the Free SHS started enrollment has shot up and that has exposed infrastructure issues...[but]  in 2018 there will be an increase in enrollment [so] government [has] to raise additional funding," Clara Osei Boateng said.