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Free SHS: Studying under trees better than selling on the streets – Minister

A deputy Education Minister, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, has stated it is better to have children studying under trees under the free Senior High School (SHS) programme than be on the street.

“I’ll rather have children learning under trees than walking the streets and selling dog chains. I’ll rather have children eating under trees than going hungry,” he declared in parliament Thursday.

Dr. Adutwum’s comments were in reaction to claims by the Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa that the government’s allocation for the programme in the 2018 budget is inadequate.

The government in the 2018 budget earmarked some GH¢1.2 billion to the implementation of the Free SHS programme in 2018. The amount is three times higher than the GH¢400 million that was allocated to the programme in its first year of implementation in 2017.

The amount is expected to benefit over 100,000 students compared to this year, when the GH¢400 million catered for the needs of some 424,092 students.

But the former deputy education Minister argued that the amount is woefully inadequate, calling for an upward revision. This, he said will help address the many challenges that have confronted the program since its rollout in September.

“When we told our colleagues on the other side that the allocation of the GH¢400 million was inadequate they called us names, today the finance minister came to parliament and told us the allocation was inadequate… they have done the same thing again in the 2018 budget,” he stated.

“The whole Ghana expected that this 2018 budget under education would have come with a marshal plan, a rescue package for the free SHS disaster but this budget has not made an allocation to address these challenges,” he added.

In his defense, Dr. Adutwum, said the government knew from the beginning that the implementation of the policy will be met with a litany of challenges.

“We did not go into the implementation of Free Senior High School with allusions that it’s all going to be hunky-dory… but no child can wait their turn until everything is great in this country before they can have the opportunity for secondary education,” he said.

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