Eduwatch questions essence of new bill, says Free SHS already has legal backing

Eduwatch questions essence of new bill, says Free SHS already has legal backing

Education think-tank Africa Education Watch has raised questions about the rationale behind the government’s decision to introduce the Free Senior High School bill to give legal backing to the policy.

This follows a disclosure at a press briefing ahead of Parliament’s resumption from break on Tuesday addressed by Majority Leader in Parliament, Alexander Afenyo-Markin, on June 11, 2024.

He revealed that a finalised bill is ready for presentation by the Education Minister, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum. According to him, the move is to prevent any government from attempting to abort the policy.

Speaking to Accra-based Citi FM, Executive Director of Africa Education Watch, Kofi Asare said the policy already has legal backing and does not require another law.

According to him, he rather expects the government to focus on improving the policy by addressing the various challenges plaguing it.

He said, “I am a bit lost because in December 2020 Parliament passed a law called the Pre-Tertiary Education Law which is Act 10(49). This law which was assented on 29th December 2020 has free SHS captured under section 3 which says that ‘Secondary education in its different forms including TVET shall be free and accessible to all eligible candidates. So this provision in the pre-tertiary education law is to give legal effect, is to give binding effect.”

“…I think that perhaps the only reason is, it is a legacy reason. It looks more political legacy kind of style. But in reality, if you ask me the top 10 challenges or problems that require urgent attention on the Free SHS policy, the law would not be in the [space] of 10,” he stated.

Also, the Ranking Member of Parliament’s Education Committee, Peter Nortsu-Kotoe, has already criticised the move.

Nortsu-Kotoe questioned the need for a law to regulate or entrench the Free SHS programme, highlighting the lack of an official policy document on free SHS despite requests made to the previous and current education ministers over the past seven to eight years.

The bill, soon to be presented to Parliament, seeks to regulate and sustain the policy beyond the current government.

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