Deputy Minister of Education-designate defends free SHS


A Deputy Minister of Education-designate, John Ntim Fordjour, has refuted claims that quality education has been compromised for quantity in the implementation of the free Senior High School (SHS).

According to him, West Africa Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) results and high teacher-students engagement time have showed that the programme was focused on ensuring quality education and impact positively on beneficiaries.

Appearing before the Appointments Committee of Parliament, in Accra, yesterday for vetting, Mr Fordjour said, despite concerns about the double track system, it has effectively ensured that more than 400,000 students, who would have been forced to stay at home due to lack of infrastructure, gained admission into SHSs across the country.

Considering the huge number of beneficiaries under the programme, Mr Fordjour said, government was proactive in rolling it out and addressing the infrastructural challenges simultaneously.

He noted that the ministry was in the process of initiating a programme to promote and encourage students in other disciplines to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Mr Fordjour debunked speculations that the government and the ministry were pursuing intent to introduce comprehensive sex education in the basic education curriculum.

Earlier, Andrew Egyapa Mercer, Deputy Minister of Energy Designate, who also appeared before the committee, said the terminated Power Distribution Services (PDS) deal was not fraudulent.

He said the contract was terminated following investigations that found some ‘material’ breaches, as the “issuing party had provided an inappropriate guarantor.”

Mr Egyapa Mercer was responding to a question from Member of Parliament of Asawase, Mubarak Muntaka, on whether the decision of the government to terminate the contract was as a result of the detection of fraud.

“The communication from the government at the time was that there were some material breaches that had been detected which were going to be investigated. It was after the investigation that the transaction was terminated.

“At the time that the transaction was suspended, there was absolutely no basis for the assertion that it was suspended based on fraud,” the deputy minister-designate emphasised.

He also refuted claims of his involvement in the PDS deal, particularly as the director for the company.

“Interestingly, because the documentation for the transaction had my name as director and one of the shareholders of PDS, then it became easy to associate me with PDS and create the impression as if to say I was connected to PDS,” Mr Egyapa Mercer said.

“The truth of the matter is that I am not a director of PDS nor am I a shareholder of PDS. Indeed, I am even a shareholder of the company that I incorporated for the client, so the question of conflict of interest in itself does not arise, and has never arisen,” he explained.

BY CLAUDE NYARKO ADAMS


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