Heated Debate Over Free SHS In Parliament

A former Deputy Minister of Education, Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, and a current Deputy Minister of Education, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, last Thursday were engaged in a banter as to whether the free senior high school (SHS) education policy was a failure or a success.

Contributing to the debate on the 2018 budget and economic policy, Mr Ablakwa, who is the Member of Parliament (MP) for North Tongu, said the implementation of the Free SHS policy had been haphazard so far.
For instance, he said, because of the huge numbers, students were forced to have classes in dormitories and under trees.

He said some of the students sat on blocks and anything they could find because there were no furniture.

Mr Ablakwa referred to media reports, which quoted prominent Ghanaians as indicating that the policy was facing challenges.

Mr Ablakwa said the government had a lot of arrears to clear at the schools.

Counter arguments

Dr Adutwum, denied that the Free SHS policy was facing serious challenges.

He said the policy was a bold one being implemented by a visionary President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

Dr Adutwum, who is the MP for Bosomtwe, said a lot of parents could not afford the fees which could prevent their children from accessing senior high school education.

He explained that the idea behind the policy was to offer all school-going children access to senior high school for free.

Dr Adutwum said the government had released money to the schools for the implementation of the Free SHS policy education.

He said the government was committed to releasing the outstanding amount to the schools.

Earlier suspension

The Speaker, Professor Mike Oquaye, suspended sitting for an hour following the insistence of the Minority Leader to be allowed to speak on an issue.

As soon as the Speaker asked the MP for Ellembelle, Mr Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah, to begin a debate on the budget, the Deputy Minority Whip, Mr Ahmed Ibrahim, rose to his feet, which implied that he wanted to raise a point.

But the Speaker asked Mr Buah to go ahead with his contribution. Thereafter, the Minority Chief Whip, Alhaji Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka, also rose to his feet.

Mr Buah then pleaded with the Speaker to listen to the leaders first since he could not be speaking while his leaders were up.

But the Speaker did not call the two minority leaders to raise their issues.

The Majority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, also took to his feet to make a comment.

The Speaker announced the suspension of sitting for one hour.

Thereafter, the leadership of the House went to have a meeting with the Speaker.

When sitting resumed, the Speaker gave Mr Ahmed the opportunity to make his point.

Mr Ahmed said he had gathered that the Legislative Instrument (LI) for the creation of Metropolitan, Municipal and Districts, which was laid in Parliament last week, had been brought for some corrections to be effected.

He said per the law, once the LI had been brought for correction, the counting for the 21 sitting days for the maturation of the LI would have started when the corrected version returned to the House.

But Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said the information would be investigated and acted upon.

Prof. Oquaye said the House came with an agenda for the day.

Therefore, it was important not to allow matters that had not been listed to disrupt the agenda, saying, "we have to be careful not to disrupt it."

Therefore, he said, he did not want members to rise to interrupt or spring surprises.