Deputy Ranking member on the Committee of Education in Ghana’s Parliament Dr. Clement A. Apaak has called for thorough re-thinking of the policy proposal by the President Nana Akufo-Addo lead administration to wean public tertiary institutions off government subventions.
According to him this would invariably restrict access to tertiary education and further prevent the poor and marginalised from accessing tertiary education when implemented.
The Builsa South lawmaker in a statement noted that a statement made by the Minister for Finance Ken Ofori Atta, “Wean-off public tertiary institutions from government payroll and provide them with a fixed amount ‘block grant’,” instead meant, government intends to no longer shoulder the cost of paying lecturers and staff of the tertiary institutions. As such, tertiary institutions would have to raise their own revenue to pay for the human resources required to function as institutions of higher learning.
For tertiary institutions under prevailing circumstances to raise the needed resources to pay teaching and non-teaching staff, it will likely require passing a chunk of the bill to students, resulting in higher school fees. Higher fees will be to the detriment of poor students who are even struggling to pay the current fees.
When public tertiary institutions become fee-paying, then obviously, government is directly introducing a financial barrier to the already existing infrastructural barrier.
“In any case, why would government increase access by making secondary education free, and propose to restrict access by essentially making the cost of obtaining tertiary education by beneficiaries of free secondary education exorbitant?”
This proposal, if implemented, would negate any gains that free SHS intended to achieve. For a government that believes that parents cannot afford to pay school fees for their wards at senior high level to now turn around to demand full fee paying from same at the tertiary level, is to say that there is lack of appreciation of the whole policy intervention at the secondary level.
He further pointed out that, only last year, President Akufo-Addo in his attendance to a forum made a point in his speech at the Global Education Summit held at the UK, that government was considering free tertiary education.
And the turnaround by Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta makes the exact policy direction of this government on education a wonder.
Public tertiary institutions, aside their assured quality, are intended to provide an even platform for all, including the poor to access higher education leading to their contributing their quota to the development of this country, he added.