Akufo-Addo Outlines Free Education, Other Policies
8/22/2012 9:15:28 AM -
The flag bearer of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), has promised that when voted into power, his administration will make provisions for admission of all qualified junior high school (JHS) students to senior high school (SHS) in the 2014/2015 academic year.
Explaining how he intends to fund free SHS and quality vocational and technical education for every Ghanaian child, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said it would cost an estimated 0.1 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which translates into about GHC78 million.
The NPP flag bearer was addressing the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA)-organised evening encounter with the public at the Ghana-India Kofi Annan ICT Centre in Accra.
“Education is at the heart of the NPP programme. We cannot transform the economy and the country without transforming the knowledge and skills of our people. Every child, rich or poor, able-bodied or disabled, deserves good education,” he said.
Ever since the NPP flgabearer put foward the idea of a free secondary education, critics have raised concern about the financial demands of such a venture.
His political opponents have even decsribed the idea as a mere political talk aimed only at only winning the 2012 belections, particularly, when there are huge infrastructural deficits in secondary schools across the country.
But replying his critics, he said the party had taken into consideration the expected rise in the cost which would hike to GH¢288 million (0.3 per cent of GDP) in the 2014-2015 academic year and increase to GH¢774 million in 2015-2016 (0.7 per cent of GDP), explaining that additional expenditure on more teachers, infrastructure for schools, including expanding and rehabilitation of existing infrastructure, and establishing cluster schools in areas where there are no Senior High Schools, will bring the total cost to GH¢755 million (0.9 per cent of GDP) in 2013 and rise to GH¢1.45 billion (1.3 per cent of GDP) in 2016.
He maintained that the provision of free secondary education would increase the total educational expenditure from the 4.1per cent of GDP in 2012 to 5.8 per cent by 2016, a figure which was still below the UNESCO minimum of six per cent and said he was prepared to take the bull by the horn and go beyond that in order to improve quality at all levels – Primary, JHS, SHS, and Tertiary.
“I know this will be expensive. But, as the Ewe saying has it, “you cook important foods in important pots.” The cost of providing free secondary school education will be cheaper than the cost of the current alternative of a largely uneducated and unskilled workforce that retards our development. Leadership is about choices – I will choose to invest in the future of our youth and of our country,” he said to the applause of the gathering.
To allay concerns that the NPP was touting a policy it had no sustainable source of funding for, Nana Akufo-Addo said a percentage of the oil revenues allocated to the Ghana National Petroleum Company, and for the funding of the budget, as well as a greater percentage from GETFund, will be used to finance the programme.
Recognising the fact that these ideas cannot be achieved without well motivated and committed teaching force in their rightful numbers, the NPP flag bearer said apart from attracting, training and retaining young professionals into the teaching profession, an NPP government would make it easier for teachers to upgrade their skills, improve their status and provide them with incentives.
For example, any teacher with 10 or more years of service would be eligible for a mortgage scheme, supported by government, for a home anywhere in the country.
On health, while pledging the NPP’s commitment to “revive and restore confidence in the National Health Insurance Scheme”, he said his administration would work to achieve universal coverage of the NHIS for all Ghanaians and spend more on public-health education and primary healthcare.
He accused “the NDC government of collapsing the NHIS, whilst struggling to implement their unrealistic one-time premium promise. Today, the fear of getting sick is back. The NHIS has been degraded and Cash & Carry is back,' he claimed.
The NPP flagbearer also touched on issues concerning unemployment, oil and gas management and agriclture.
“The value of the minerals in our country, including salt, is estimated to be in excess of US$1 trillion. We have developed plans to add value to them. We will attract the necessary capital to mine our bauxite to build a multi-billion dollar integrated aluminium industry, as envisaged by the Kufuor government. We will use a similar model to exploit our iron ore deposits and build urgently a new iron and steel industry, which can also process West African ore currently being shipped to Europe for refining.”
“Presently, our oil refinery is not working. The NDC government is wilfully starving it only to import finished products. The NPP will change this. We will use the oil & gas find to build a strong petrochemical industry in Ghana, using both private and public financing, and create linkages with other businesses to turn Ghana into a centre for light industry in our region,” he said.
To accelerate the country’s development and reduce power cuts, lack of water, inadequate roads and transport, bad drainage and sanitation that he described as inimical to business growth and frustrate lives, he said an NPP government under his leadership will vote an average of GH¢14 billion annually to bridge the infrastrural gap.
“Our infrastructure programme includes the development of roads, water supplies, sanitation, railways, ports, airports, and our plan to triple the irrigation of arable land and to complete a nationwide fibre optic backbone to facilitate effective and efficient ICT access.
Critical to all this will be a dramatic expansion and supply of reliable power to support the transformation agenda,” he added.
Touching on corruption, he expressed his determination to fight the canker aggressively, saying “I can do so, because I am not corrupt, have never been corrupt, and will demand the same of my team. Accountability and transparency are the hallmarks of good governance. Ghana needs this, Ghana deserves this and I, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, pledge to deliver this to the good people of Ghana”.