Deputy Education Minister, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum has stressed that it is better for children to learn and eat under trees than hawk on the streets and go hungry.
Reacting to Member of Parliament of North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa’s statement that the 2018 budget did not provide enough funds to address the current challenges the programme is facing, Dr Adutwum said “I’ll rather have children learning under trees that walking on the streets and selling dog chains. I’ll rather have children eating under trees than going hungry”.
The Former Deputy Minister for education accused government of failing to do enough to resolve the many challenges facing the Free Senior High School.
According to him, government did not allocate enough funds for the rolling out of the project and have repeated the same thing in the 2018 budget by allocating just GH¢1.13billion for the programme for the next academic year.
He said, “When we told our colleagues on the other side that the allocation of the GH¢400 million was inadequate they called us names, today the finance minister came to parliament and told us the allocation was inadequate… they have done the same thing again in the 2018 budget”.
He added that “the whole Ghana expected that this 2018 budget under education would have come with a marshal plan, a rescue package for the free SHS disaster but “this budget has not made an allocation to address these challenges”.
To avoid being accused of engaging in propaganda, Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa presented some graphical demonstrations of students in some Senior High schools in the country, sitting on cement blocks to study and others learning under trees whilst others had to keep their belongings (trunks and chop boxes) outside and sleep on the floor due to lack of the necessary infrastructure.
In his defence, Deputy Education Minister, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, said the NPP administration was aware that the rolling out of the Free SHS programme will face some challenges before deciding to go ahead with it.
“We did not go into the implementation of Free Senior High School with allusions that it’s all going to be hunky-dory… but no child can wait their turn until everything is great in this country before they can have the opportunity for secondary education,” he said.
He added that “as a child who grew up in the rural area who almost did not go to Senior High School, I sit here, and I feel like the poor children of this nation who have now been given the opportunity to attend Senior High School are now being insulted”.
Dr Adutwum said the Akufo-Addo government has created a level platform for all to get adequate Senior High School education and with time all the challenges were going to be over.