Sunyani (B/A), Nov. 22, GNA - The Brong-Ahafo Regional Manager of the Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC), Mr Samuel Ofori Boakye has said one's socio-economic status as well as geographical location should not determine accessibility to quality social services. Mr Boakye made the assertion in a welcoming address on the occasion of round table conference organised by regional secretariat of ISODEC at the Tropical Hotel, Sunyani over the weekend.
It was attended by about 30 participants mostly educationists, media and Non-Governmental-Organisations (NGOs) representatives and other stakeholders selected from some parts of Brong-Ahafo Region. The conference was aimed at discussing the issue of "School Fees" as far as basic education in Ghana is concerned with emphasis on effects on the poor in society and its repercussions on the nation at large, since education has direct effects on all sectors of development. Mr Boakye said the issue of affordability should not be the basis for accessing quality education as the case in Ghana, because the rich could pay higher school fees for better quality education, whilst the poor had no alternative than to accept the low standard education in the rural community.
He said by using affordability as our barometer in accessing quality education in the country, we would be creating a class society and that would not augur well for us as a nation.
The ISODEC Regional Manager appreciated the contribution of the government and other stakeholders including NGOs, whose various interventions had assisted some needy children with all kinds of scholarships and bursaries to enable such children access education in the country.
As far as ISODEC's Girl-Child Education is concerned, 4,933 needy girls have been assisted to be in school for the past years in Brong-Ahafo and Ashanti regions in collaboration with five district assemblies, Mr Boakye said.
He noted that there had been a support for infrastructure development in the education sector through GETFUND, HIPC and District Assemblies Common Fund among others but expressed regret that although a close look at the national budget for education often showed huge amounts budgeted for the education sector, about 90 per cent of such budgets went into recurrent expenditure, especially salaries.
He complained that despite the policy of fee-free tuition at the basic education level, there is evidence of payment of some education levies as a means of raising funds for school repairs and sporting activities, which could deter poor parents from sending their children to school.
Mr Boakye advocated for the removal of all fees of any kind from the basic level to relieve the burden on poor parents and guardians, whose "spirit" might be willing to give education to their children but were put off by the weak poor "fresh".
He stressed that if the nation was able to get every child to successfully complete a full course of education, we would have overcome half of our social, economic, cultural and political problems, because eventually, each person would have acquired a certain level of knowledge and understanding and would be able to participate meaningfully in public life.
Mrs Akua Akubuor Debrah, Brong-Ahafo Regional Director of Education speaking on a topic: "A Review of the Education Bill and assess how it potentially favours or hinders fee-free at the basic level" said even though the nation had witnessed a number of Acts towards fee-free education in the country, none appeared to have worked to its true interpretation.
Mrs Debrah said the genesis of proposals for fee-free in our basic level educational set up dated back in the regime of the late Dr. Kwame Nkrumah Regime Act 87 of 1961 Constitution to draw home her point.