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No Tax No Secondary Education Is A Human Rights Violation

No Tax No Secondary Education Is A Human Rights Violation published on

And What’s The Purpose of Free SHS?

Do you know that the Government is planning to stop children whose parents do not pay tax from accessing secondary school education? This is a very worrying development because many children whose parents are very poor would be negatively affected should the policy be implemented.

 

 

We were very happy when the Free SHS policy was introduced here in Ghana. But now the government wants to limit it to only children whose parents are tax payers – according to the Finance Minister in his presentation of the 2019 budget.

We believe the policy is discriminatory and a VIOLATION of the RIGHT OF THE CHILD TO ACCESS QUALITY EDUCATION without impediments from anyone.

“Everyone has the right to education” that is what the first line of article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states. Nowhere in article 26 is it stated that only tax payers’ children can have secondary school education.

Education is supposed to be a right not a privilege. Therefore, we cannot and should not base access to secondary school education on having Tax Identification Number.

The TIN policy in our educational sector will only undermine the whole idea behind the introduction of Free secondary education – which is “not to leave any child behind or at home”.

This is a bad idea and should NEVER be implemented in Ghana.

WRITTEN BY: ROSE ENYA

Free SHS – Good For The Girl Child

Free SHS – Good For The Girl Child published on

Free SHS Is Good News For Promoting Girl Child Education In Ghana

WP_20170330_09_30_02_Pro - CopyWe congratulate the government of the New Patriotic Party for introducing Free Secondary Education Programme in Ghana this year; as it gives every child, especially girls, equal opportunity to have secondary education.

The policy is commendable because it allows all qualified students, especially girls from poor homes to go to secondary school free of charge, thus making secondary education available and accessible to every child in Ghana regardless of the economic status of their parents.

If sustained, every girl child in Ghana can have Senior High School (SHS) qualification without any excuses from parents on financial grounds.

Usually, it is the girl child that is sidestepped and left at home in favour of the boy child due to financial constraints – but today, “no money” can no longer be an excuse against girl child education.

So this is a welcomed development for the advancement of gender equality in our educational sector!

The policy gives true meaning to the right of the child to have quality education as stated in article #25 of Ghana’s Constitution; article #28 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child; and article #26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

We would however like to entreat government to deal with some of the implementation challenges cropping up, particularly posting of students to day schools outside their areas of residence far away from their parents and guardians.

We are concerned that majority of these students especially the girls are too young to be left on their own because they can be sexually abused easily, leading to teenage pregnancies and School drop-outs.

It is therefore very necessary that all day students are posted to schools near their homes and areas of residence to make life easier for both students and parents

Right To Education

Right To Education published on

The Experience of Ghanaian Children

Parental poverty seems to be the main impediment to children’s Right to free Primary Education in Ghana, as many children still do not attend school due to lack of basic necessities and learning materials.

The Stand Ghana team has been informed that even some of the children in school are there at a heavy price since a number of them are compelled to engage in negative practices such as sleeping with men for money in order to be in school.

Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states that primary education should be made free; similarly, the Convention on the Rights of the Child which was adopted in 1989 by the UN General Assembly and came into force on 2nd September 1990, also affirms that primary education must be made available free to all.

The reality however is that although each child supposedly has the right to free primary education in Ghana, many children, especially those from very poor families are still not able to enjoy this right even when they are not expected to pay fees.

The reason Art 28 (1a) of the Child Right Convention requires states parties to make primary education compulsory and available free to all, is to ensure children of school going age are really in school for proper formation and development of their personalities. Yet this objective is sadly far from reality in many communities.

Ghana was one of the first to sign the Convention on the Rights of the Child (Ghana ratified this convention on 5th February, 1990).  As a result, primary pupils in public schools do not pay tuition fees. Even though this is laudable, the fact remains that many children still do not attend school due to lack of financial support.

Our interactions with some parents and teachers indicate that the real cost of getting a child through primary school is not payment of tuition fees, but the numerous expenses parents make to get the child ready for school.

For example, aside tuition fees, parents have to provide school uniforms, note books, exercise books, pens, other learning materials, as well as PTA dues just to name a few.

In addition, parents also have the responsibility to ensure their children’s basic needs such as prescribed shoes. socks and underwear for example, are provided regularly. This is a huge responsibility for many urban poor and rural farmers in Ghana today.

Many parents and guardians said they are unable to bear the cost of educational materials and what it takes to get their children to school daily due to financial constraints. This is particularly true of rural communities where most parents and guardians depend on extremely scanty incomes from subsistence farming.

We are reliably informed that to be in school, some JHS girls are forced to sleep with men for money to buy pads for their menses – otherwise they will have to stay at home.

This issue came to light again at one of our human rights educational events on child rights and responsibilities. The PTA chairman lamented about the fact that some of the JHS girls were no longer spending the night with their parents but with men and were going to school straight from the men’s homes instead of their parents’; and this is affecting their performance in class.

When asked during our interaction with them whether the PTA chairman’s allegations were true, the children said yes.

We are alarmed and deeply worried about this development considering the possible negative impacts on these girls  – such as the risk of sexual violence, getting sexually transmitted diseases and teenage pregnancies which could eventually lead to their dropping out of school and destroying their future.

We have to remember that by preventing children from going to school due to poverty, we are preventing them from having a better future and being useful to society.

There‘s no doubt that poverty is a major challenge to a child’s right to education; and unless the issue is properly tackled, the right to free primary education will remain a mirage for many children.

We call on government and other stakeholders to step-up more on the agenda of poverty alleviation. We urgently need to tackle severe poverty in Ghana head-on and genuinely. Only then can we truly talk about the right to free primary education for all Ghanaian children.

 

By Rose-Mary Kayi

 

 

 

 

 

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