Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, has expressed his disappointment in the Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia’s announcement of free laptops to senior high school students, insisting he has created another crisis for government.
According to him, the crisis has led to government failing once again to present the 2023 proposed GETFund Formula to Parliament this week for approval despite featuring on Parliament’s Order Paper for Wednesday June 7, 2023.
He indicated that with the NHIA and DACF Formulae approved by Parliament much earlier, thus before the Easter break, the current troubling situation represents the longest period it has taken for a GETFund Formula to be presented to Parliament by any government since the GETFund was established by the NDC in the year 2000.
“Vice President Bawumia has apparently created another crisis for his government with his Free Laptops for SHS students announcement as government struggles to finance the Veep’s latest wish list.”Dr Mahamudu Bawumia
Mr Ablakwa stated that per insiders report, Bawumia’s free laptop promise will cost government at least GHS1.4 billion. However, he explained that after 6 years of mismanaging the GETFund, only some GHS200 million is expected to be available in the fund this year.
“Government’s conundrum now, thanks to Bawumia’s incorrigible appetite for populist promises, is where to find the GHS1.2billion deficit; plus how to find additional resources to settle other GETFund commitments including paying agitating contractors, how to fulfill legal obligations at the basic and tertiary levels, how to clear arrears of suffocating SHS food suppliers, how to pay for textbooks already ordered, how to redeem scholarship demands from various countries and how to complete the numerous GETFund abandoned projects across the country — obviously not an easy task at a time of IMF austerity.”Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa
The North Tongu legislator highlighted that negotiations between the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Education and GETFund as to how Bawumia’s latest “albatross” could be accommodated have been rather “tempestuous”, to put it mildly.
“Objectively, after gross mismanagement and the dubious daakye bond experiment, GETFund was already comatose but it’s only logical to conclude that Bawumia’s ‘kwatrikwa’ free-laptop-affair was the last whimsical pronouncement that left GETFund completely lifeless.”Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa
GPA prescribes use of both laptops and textbooks
Meanwhile, the Ghana Publishers Association (GPA) has prescribed the use of tablets and laptops alongside textbooks in second cycle schools instead of abolishing the latter altogether. It explained that this is because, the country did not have the infrastructure in the regions and districts to handle such digital facilities in terms of uploading content and replacement, and repairs, among others.
President of GPA, Asare-Konadu Yamoah, emphasized that it would be better if tablets and laptops were used as complementary educational materials alongside textbooks.
“In our third world economy we have a lot of challenges and we have not gotten there yet; even training the children on how to use the tablets, how to navigate them by way of looking for content, how to save and all that is a huge thing that we need to look at. You need to go down to the regions and districts to create laboratories where the children would send the tablets when they are faulty for repairs and uploading of new content.”Asare-Konadu Yamoah
Mr Yamoah emphasized that the association was in support of the use of tablets and laptops as complementary educational materials in view of current developments across the world where technology was driving virtually everything. He explained that no country had been able to take physical textbooks out of its educational system, citing the US, the UK, India and Singapore as examples.
“If it’s complementary it is fine because the world is moving digital and the children would have to get accustomed to the digital learning experience and it is something that they do side by side with the physical textbooks.”Asare-Konadu Yamoah
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