Catholic Bishops appeal to govt to address challenges facing Free SHS

The Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference (GCBC) has expressed the need for the government to address challenges facing the Free Senior High School (SHS) policy to ensure that it led to quality education that would help build a proper foundation for trainees.

The Bishops said this in an eight-page communique issued at the end of a five-day plenary assembly in Wa in the Upper West Region last Friday.

The meeting was aimed at outlining challenges such as the uncertainty about the school calendar for the senior high school system as well as challenges with the Computer School Selection and Placement System (CSSPS).

“We commend the government once more for the introduction and implementation of the Free SHS policy, we have to however acknowledge that there are some significant challenges that need to be addressed and these include overcrowding in schools as well as challenges with the school feeding programme under the buffer stock system of food supply and distribution,” it said.

Reading the communique on behalf of the conference, the Vice President of the GCBC, Most Reverend Charles Gabriel Palmer-Buckle, said that the policy in no doubt had increased enrolment and access to secondary school education but said the challenges were “veiling the beauty and merits of the policy” and called for swift intervention to address the issue.

Touching on other issues, he stated that the Conference had thrown its weight behind the school of thought that says nomination and confirmation of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) should be done through a general poll to reduce the perceived corruption that had flouted the process in recent times.

He stated that the GCBC believed that an electoral process would ensure participation of the public in the selection of people to manage their resources at the decentralised level such that the issue of perceived politicisation of the country’s local government systems would be checked.

“The nominations and confirmation of MMDCEs over the years and in recent cases have brought to the fore how deep-rooted the culture of bribery and corruption is in our governance system; this calls for the need to return to the proposal for a Constitutional Amendment to elect MMDCEs,” he said.

Most Rev. Palmer-Buckle who is also the Archbishop of Cape Coast used the opportunity to impress upon the media to ensure that they played their role of educating and informing its audience appropriately by churching out credible and factual news devoid of untruth.

“We commend the media for the role they continue to play as the fourth estate and promoting democracy, however, we call upon them to uphold the highest journalistic values and ethics in their reportage by verifying information to ensure objectivity in issues that were churned out as news,” he read.

He commended the government for partnering the Catholic Church to train some youth in the Central Region in skills acquisition and called for more of such collaboration between the government and the church to ensure that women and the youth were empowered with skills that would enable them to establish businesses on their own and become independent.

The five-day conference, attended by Catholic bishops of all dioceses across the country, as well as other religious bodies who are in the country for evangelistic work, was held on the theme “Fratelli Tutti (Fraternity of all humanity) and COVID-19: Pastoral opportunities and challenges in Ghana” and called for a more united front to help address challenges that had been introduced to humanity and the economy by the COVID-19 pandemic.

FROM LYDIA DARLINGTON FORDJOUR, WA

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