Renowned economist and global business strategist, Dr Sam Ankrah, has waded into the national conversation over the sustainability of the Free SHS program arguing it must be means-tested.
His comments come in the wake of reports of massive challenges facing the policy as the Ghanaian economy struggles.
Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta is on record to have started parents who can afford must pay for their wards to seek secondary education.
In a statement, Dr. Sam Ankrah said “Undoubtedly The implementation of FSHS in Ghana is a positive step forward and it is here to stay.
“However, the sustainability of the current model presents challenges primarily through cost but also available infrastructure. In the context of cost alone, Ghana must review how the programme is delivered”.
He added: “FSHS is to ensure that no child is denied education. The primary driver for this is to overcome poverty as a barrier to education.
“However, free education for all is something Ghana patently can’t afford, so how do we protect education that is free for those who cannot afford it?
“Access to FSHS must be means-tested Parents of wards who are to receive FSHS should present their case with a simple statement of income and expenditure. This should include GRA TIN and all tax clearance certificates. The government will set a level of income below which children from the applicants may attend for free.
He also advised the “government could also consider tapering fees as incomes only just above the free threshold may be difficult to absorb for those families that are not eligible but still in low income.
“This way, the direct burden on the government for all FSHS costs is somewhat ameliorated.
“A major bonus is an ability, drive, compulsion to draw people from the informal sector of the economy into the formal by requiring them to be registered with the GRA for tax purposes”.