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01.02.2005 Education

Former MP calls for aggressive push towards fee-free education

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Kumasi, Feb. 1, GNA - Mr James Adusei-Sarkodie, former Member of Parliament (MP) for Atwima-Nwabiagya, has called for a more aggressive push towards fee-free education in the country.

He said this would be a landmark achievement for which the government of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) would forever be remembered. His call is contained in a paper he presented to the government, a copy of which was made available to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Kumasi.

In the paper, the former MP, who was also the Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Education, outlined a number of policy measures that could be adopted to achieve this aim.

Mr Adusei-Sarkodie stated that if countries like Malaysia, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, India and the Dominican Republic have succeeded in making education free, he has every reason to believe that Ghana could do the same.

Available statistics, he noted, showed that there were presently a total of 5,100,826 pupils at the basic level of the country's education and that the fees charged on each of the pupils by the government was 16,000 cedis.

The total school fees collected nationwide from parents at this level is therefore 81.6 billion cedis, a figure, he said could be easily absorbed by the government without serious threat to the economy.

Mr. Adusei-Sarkodie suggested that at the Senior Secondary School (SSS) level, it was important to move quickly to phase out the boarding system.

He said with the nation's SSS students population standing at 204,627 and the current fees paid by a day student pegged at 78,000 cedis a year, the government would not have any problem making secondary school education free "if we did away with the boarding system."

"We would only be talking about an annual expenditure of about 16 billion cedis on the SSS student".

The former MP again canvassed for the abolition of payment of allowances to teacher trainees to bring down the expenditure on them and thereby allow for increased intake of students into the training colleges.

Mr Adusei-Sarkodie also touched on the problems facing the universities with particular reference to funding and accommodation and said it should be so arranged that campus accommodation was restricted to only first year students and those offering critical courses like medicine.

Besides, the students must themselves source for bank loans, which, he said, should be guaranteed by the insurance companies. He pointed out that apart from widening the tax net, there could be percentage deductions from royalty payments to the traditional councils and the district assemblies specifically to fund education.

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