The Child Rights International (CRI) has appealed to the government to do everything within its power to protect and maintain the free Senior High School (SHS) Programme as the country goes for IMF programme.
Ghana’s decision to go for an International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme in the wake of the country’s economic challenges has sparked fears of a possible review of some of the government’s social intervention programmes such as the Free SHS.
According to a statement issued and signed by the Executive Director of CRI, Mr Bright Appiah, he said under no circumstances should the free SHS policy suffer due to an IMF programme.
He said although the details of the IMF was yet to be decided, many economic experts were of the view that the government flagship programme, the Free SHS, might suffer a setback or possibly be scrapped because of its constraint on the national purse.
Mr Appiah said the gains of free SHS was so huge and, therefore, risking it would spell doom for many Ghanaian children, adding that since it had already started it would be expensive to review it.
“Since its introduction, CRI has supported and rallied behind it and any other child-centred programmes, that is why we must all continue to throw our weight behind the free SHS and protectit from any act that could affect its smooth implementation,” he said.
On the current state of the free SHS policy, Mr Appiah stressed the need for prudent expenditure and timely delivery of services by the various stakeholders tasked to ensure the smooth running of the programme.
He said, “it is disturbing to hear reports of children not been fed and funds not released on time to finance the various aspects of the free SHS programme.
“This is where proper attention needs to be focused and not the slightest thought of reviewing the policy or scrapping it because of IMF programme,” Mr Appiah said.
To make the programme more efficient, he said there should be a demand of accountability from the managers of the schools, adding that sanctions ought to be applied where necessary.
Mr Appiah said the future of Ghanaian children “are paramount and must be protected at all cost”.
According to him, statistics from the Ghana Education Service (GES) revealed that 1. 6 million youth have so far benefitted from the free SHS programme.
Most of the beneficiaries of the programme were children from deprived communities who before the implementation of the policy were idling at homes because of lack of finances.
He said the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, in the 2021 Mid-Year Fiscal Policy Review said as at June 2022, the government had spent GH₵7.7 billion in implementing the Free Senior High School (SHS) policy since its inception.
An amount of GH₵480 million was spent on the Policy in 2017, GH₵1.3 billion in 2018, GH₵1.6 billion in 2019, GH₵2.4 billion in 2020, GH₵1.9 billion in 2021, while the cost was expected to increase drastically in 2022.