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15.08.2005 General News

NDC asks govt to include private basic schools in fee-paying policy

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Accra, Aug 15, GNA - The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) on Monday asked the Government to immediately review its policy to absorb fees of pupils in the country's public basic schools to include all children in private basic schools as well.

In a statement signed by Mahama Ayariga, the NDC Ranking Member of Constitutional Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, the Party said it was not seeking Government to bear the payment of entire fees of children attending private basic schools but to ensure that they were equally treated in line with the country's Constitution.

Government has announced plans to begin the payment of fess for all pupils in the country's public basic schools beginning from the opening of the new academic year in September.

But the NDC said in providing for only children in public basic schools and leaving out those attending private basic schools, the Government was discriminating against the latter and making the policy unconstitutional.

Citing Article 25(1)(a) of the Constitution to support its claim, the Party said the said article and the Directive Principles of State Policy in article 38 guaranteed the right of each Ghanaian child to equal educational opportunities and facilities and that basic education should be free, compulsory and available to all.

It said it was in this direction that the State was given 12 years within which to work out an acceptable framework for the implementation of the Free, Compulsory Universal Basic Education programme. In addition, the Party said the Government's action was a violation of the obligation of the country under international human rights law. The statement said it was unfortunate that the Government's move was taking place at a time when the Ghana Education Trust Fund was generating more than one trillion cedis to the educational sector this year.

Besides, the statement said, it was wrong for the Government to assume that the parents of children in private schools were rich and should be discriminated against.

The statement said most parents send their children to private schools because there were not enough public basic schools and no equitable geographical distribution to cater for all children of basic school-going age.

"Attending private schools is often simply a matter of no choice for some parents," the statement said, and added that discriminating against children on the basis of the presumed financial status of their parents equally violated both international human rights law and the Constitution.