Home Business Sacking of headteachers over free SHS may be illegal – Law lecturer

Sacking of headteachers over free SHS may be illegal – Law lecturer

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Private legal practitioner, Yaw Oppong has faulted the Ghana Education Service after it sacked two headteachers of Senior High Schools for charging unapproved fees.

The law lecturer with the Central University argued the decision by the GES Council to sack two school heads and the interdiction of nine others, may have breached GES Act 506.

Just 48 hours into the implementation of free SHS policy, two headteachers, Mr Wisdom Blazu of  Pentecost SHS in the Eastern Region and Assistant headmaster of Daffour Senior High School, Rev S.P Eleworkor were relieved of their posts.

The Ghana Education Service said it had found them of breaching guidelines on the free SHS which had been communicated to school heads.

He said Act 506 requires that a disciplinary committee is set up to deal with allegations of wrongdoing.

Yaw Oppong said the press release confirming the punitive action only mentioned that the heads were sacked after interactions with officials in the service.

“There is no evidence that the Disciplinary Committee invited these people to be charged…and given adequate opportunity to be heard,” he said.

Commenting on the implementation of free SHS, the legal practitioner rejected the argument by the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) that the government discriminated by paying for only first-year students.

The NDC has said the NPP has deceived Ghanaians because it created the impression the free SHS would cover all streams instantly.

But Yaw Oppong said the plan to start with first-year students is similar to NDC policy to reduce SHS education from four to three years.

In 2009, the reduction started with first-year students who now had to complete three years instead of four. “It did not affect those already in the school” he explained.

Justifying the government’s decision to start with first-year students, the legal practitioner also pointed out that Article 25 of the 1992 constitution allows for the progressive introduction of free education.

“(b) secondary education in its different forms, including technical and vocational education, shall be made generally available and accessible to all by every appropriate means, and in particular, by the progressive introduction of free education”

By 2020, all three streams of schooling at public Senior High Schools are expected to be free in full fulfilment of the governing NPP plan to provide comprehensive free education.

He said the start with first-year students does not breach Article 17 of the 1992 constitution which prohibits discrimination on the “grounds of gender, race, colour, ethnic origin, religion, creed or social or economic status”.

He explained that the same article in the constitution defines discrimination and creates exceptions.

He quoted clause four of the Article which states that “Nothing in this article shall prevent Parliament from enacting laws that are reasonably necessary to provide ­ (a) for the implementation of policies and programmes aimed at redressing social, economic or educational imbalance in the Ghanaian society”

Yaw Oppong said the free SHS policy was catered for by law because it was included in the Appropriation Bill passed by Parliament after government presented its 2017 budget.