‘Free SHS investment will yield results in 10-15 years’

The Director of Social Protection at the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Dr Rita Owusu Amankwah, has lauded efforts by Ghana to implement many social intervention programmes to bridge the  inequality gap and mitigate poverty.

She said the ongoing Free Senior High School programme is one of the vast social protection investments government was making that would produce substantial benefits in 10 to 15 years’ time.

“Free Senior High School (SHS) is a huge social protection investment the government is making. We will see the real results in 10 to 15 years,” Dr Rita said, and urged faith based organisations to integrate social protection into their activities and plans.

She was speaking during regional stakeholders’ meeting with Faith Based Organisations (FBOs) in the Upper West Regional capital, Wa, organised in partnership with the Gender Ministry and Christian Council of Ghana.

It was on the theme: “Mainstreaming social protection into the activities and policies of FBOs in Ghana”.

Ghana is implementing several social intervention programmes directed at reducing poverty and vulnerability in a move aimed at promoting inclusive development.

The programmes include Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP), National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), School Feeding Programme, Labour intensive public works, Education Capitation Grant, Planting for Food and Jobs and Free Senior High School.

The Gender Ministry said on Friday that it was assiduously working on a Social Protection Bill with the Attorney General’s Department to be passed into law by 2019.

Dr Rita expressed the hope that government would be prepared enough in the next three to four years when products of the free SHS would be crossing to the tertiary education stage where additional infrastructure will be required to contain them.

“I pray that the government is prepared for them at the tertiary level for the next three to four years they will be in tertiary and the government may need to provide additional infrastructure,” she said.

“Giving everybody chance to education, it means we are dealing with poverty at the structural level and distributing income so that the poor will be lifted out of poverty”.

She urged FBOs to incorporate social protection issues in their programme of activities to help the state lessen vulnerability and improve living standards of Ghanaians.

“We want you to come out with sustainable actions that will lift people out of poverty, use your pulpits to preach to CEOs that they should treat their workers well, you can do social insurance and provide extension services to farmers to help those economically at risk,” she added.

The Ministry’s Chief Director, Dr Afisah Zakaria, told representatives of the FBOs that worldwide, social protection has proven to be a reliable tool for addressing poverty, vulnerability and exclusion which Ghana had also adopted.

About 2,174 pupils in 6,213 public primary schools in all districts of Ghana, she said, were currently benefiting from the Ghana School Feeding Programme.

About 13,816 prison inmates across the country have also been enrolled onto the National Health Insurance Scheme, with several of them having their cards renewed, she added.

 

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