Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to also contribute to the Statement made by my Hon Colleague on the other side. It is a Statement which is very apt and appropriate.
Mr Speaker, I must say that having listened to the Statement that was made by our President at that conference, one cannot help but to commend him for being very passionate about it and he aid it in a manner that one can consider as sincere. It was in a manner that actually created some sensation across that conference among African leaders.
Indeed, the free SHS policy that has been established here in Ghana, obviously, the way the President talked about it came across as a motivation for other African countries to emulate. For instance, the President said:
“We cannot depend on other people to finance the education on our continent. I am saying that not to turn my back to be ungrateful to these important and noble people who have committed themselves to help. No, but if we make our policy dependent on other people, when their policy changes, we will suffer. But if we make the policy for ourselves, then it means that at all times, we would be in control of our own destiny.”
This obviously rhymes with what the founder of our nation, Dr Kwame Nkrumah said, that the African must indeed be in charge of his own affairs.
Mr Speaker, we have started the free SHS policy here and other countries are looking up to us as role models and therefore, it would be necessary to ensure that we put in place all the mechanisms to ensure that it succeeds.
Mr Speaker, having said that, I believe we cannot only commend him ourselves, that this Government has started the free SHS policy and therefore, they should be commended alone. No! Obviously, there was a foundation that was laid. Without the infrastructure, we cannot build on it.
Therefore, while we laud Nana Akufo- Addo for this policy that has been initiated, we should also commend those who started and put in place certain mechanisms. After all, the previous regime also talked about progressively free education, and if you talk about something being progressive, it means that moving from one stage to a higher one.
So, there is the need to commend former President John Dramani Mahama's Government also for laying the foundation. I believe strongly that any international stage that Nana Akufo-Addo finds himself, he must also commend the one who planted before he watered.
Mr Speaker, even though we are talking of the free SHS policy and people are looking up to us as a role model, are we indeed doing what it takes to ensure that it succeeds fully? We talk about not depending on donors, which hitherto was always the case.
We talk about weaning ourselves from international support et cetera because what our President, Nana Akufo-Addo, said at that forum is very apt, that when their policy changes, it obviously can affect our policy here in Ghana if we depend on them in order for our policy to thrive.
Mr Speaker, the question is, are we coming out with very innovative ways of mobilising and generating resources from within to really support those programmes that we hold dear?
Mr Speaker, today, the debt level of our nation keeps rising. We do not seem to have actually come up with effective strategic approaches to generate resources from within. And so, if we are not careful, it would only appear to be rhetoric.
Even today, when we look at the free SHS policy, what is happening? It has been devilled with so many challenges. What are the alternative mechanisms that we are adopting or thinking through, as it were, to really arrest the situation and keep the programme on course?
Mr Speaker, I wonder sometimes if indeed this excellent policy has a future. If the usual way of doing things is the norm, would it have a future? This is the question that we need to address.
Mr Speaker, a lot hinges on the Ministry of Finance because they must give us the direction on to how we can generate resources to sustain programmes like this. There are so many social intervention programmes that we have embarked on that are good, but at the end of the day, if we do not get the resources, then we can only talk about weaning ourselves from international donor support and we would still find ourselves in the same situation.
Mr Speaker, it is said that one cannot get anywhere standing still, but as much effort you make of getting somewhere, you would dash your feet against stone. Indeed, we are making efforts of getting somewhere, but in mobilising resources, what new thing are we doing? That is the fulcrum for the success of the Free SHS policy.
This is because if the Free SHS policy is very successful and it becomes a lifelong programme of this nation, obviously, we would be able to reduce a number of social vices like violence