One student one tablet: Desperation of a sinking government

Feature Article One student one tablet: Desperation of a sinking government

According to Greek physician Hippocrates: Desperate times call for desperate measures. Some desperate moments are inevitable whiles others are borne out of arrogance, chicanery, stubbornness and incompetence. When a government refuses to listen to sound counselling from academics, experts, CSOs and the oppositions it eventually becomes susceptible to avoidable challenges that are too late to rectify, thereby switching into desperate and panicky mood.

That is the exact current state of the Akufo-Addo-Bawumia led administration. The government is sinking and desperate to remain afloat. A drowning man they say will clutch to a straw. The government in its desperation has resorted to “vote-buying” tactics under the pretence of enhancing technological knowledge in our secondary schools.

The importance of technology in today’s world cannot be underestimated, technology they say has turned the world into a global village, therefore any effort to ensure that children have access to gadgets to enhance their knowledge in technology is a laudable idea.

However, such an initiative should be well thought through and executed with the sole purpose of enhancing the knowledge of the students rather than for political gains as what is currently happening.

The government have announced that plans are advanced to distribute free tablet per student in all the Senior Secondary Schools across the country. The Minister of Education, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum speaking on Joy FM Newsfile stated that the first batch of 450,000 free student tablets fully funded through the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFUND) will be distributed in the first week of April.

He stated that, the distribution of tablets has been categorized into three phases, with 450,000 to be distributed to 32 schools to ensure the effective distribution of a total of 1.3 million tablets. Dr. Adutwum disclosed that the unit price per tablet is $250. It beggars belief that, the government believes this is a prudent way to improve the educational system when students are faced with a flurry of challenges including, accommodation, feeding and textbooks shortages.

The Minister categorically stated that the tablets will be given to the students free, not to the schools for free. This means that, students will keep it after graduating. The question that has been asked by a majority of Ghanaians is that, why would the government spend such an amount of money on just one batch of the SHS students. How sustainable is this project, will the next batch also get tablets each?

This led to accusation of possible vote buying using the tablets as a gift to the final year students most of whom will turn 18 before the next limited registration exercise for the 2024 general elections.

Former President, John Mahama has described government's distribution of tablets to high school students as a form of vote-buying, and rightly so. Because, if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, looks like a duck, it’s certainly a duck.

H.E. John Mahama is absolutely right when he said government initiated this policy to convince the students who are turning 18 to vote for the NPP in the December polls.

He stated that, “you bring a new curriculum, the children have no textbooks in basic schools for the last four years and you think that giving pre-tertiary students tablets is more important. Of course, everybody knows the political expediency."

"The pre-tertiary students are going to register in May because some of them are going to be 18 and above. Some are 18 already and they are going to be the ones voting. So this is a gift to entice them to vote for the current government. It’s a bribe for them to vote for this government but I mean the students do not exist in isolation. They live in households and families," Mr Mahama added.

After this pronouncement by the former president, the deputy Minister of Education Hon. Ntim Fordjour was interviewed on Asempa FM on 5th April, 2024 by Osei Bonsu (the host). When asked to react to the former president’s pronouncement, he veered into needless personal attacks on H.E. John Mahama. He was then asked if the tablets will become the bona-fide properties of the students as stated by his boss, he replied “to my understanding I think they will leave it for their brothers to also use” a clear shift from the earlier narratives by his boss Dr. Adutwum.

The question is, which of the two is telling the truth? Did Ntim Fordjour lie because the former president has exposed their vote-buying strategy?

It is important to hold Ntim Fordjour to his words of ensuring that, these tablets are used and left for next batch of students to use, rather than giving them out as gifts for political gains.

The former president couldn’t have said it any better, the NPP in their desperation will stop at nothing to cling onto power. This project is like a life-line to a sinking government, they expect to derive hope from where there is none, the students and their families have witnessed the reckless borrowing and expenditure under this government, therefore no amount of last minute gifts in an election year will sway them, they are not as gullible as the government thinks.

Moving into the 2024 general elections, Ghanaians should expect to see more of these freebies from this desperate government as we were deceived with the free water prior to the 2020 general elections and later made to pay back in double. Never trust the promises of a drowning man.