Every election year, manifesto committees are set by various parties in Ghana to come out with policies and programmes they plan to implement when they are given opportunity to govern. Mostly, these manifestos are linked to the ideologies of the parties. Until recently, manifesto was not a big issue but as the majority of the population get educated and well informed, the demand for parties messages, programmes and plans have been integral part of our democracy. The publication of party manifestos is a big moment in a general election campaign. Parties set out their plans for running the country. Policies are explained and slogans are restated. Manifestos are a “party’s contract with the electorate” – outlining the competing visions and policies that make up their respective programmes for government. But do they actually matter?
Recently, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) assessed the manifesto promises of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in all sectors and rated them. The assessment has been discredited by the NPP and the public due to the mischievous ways the NDC did the assessment. The purpose of this piece is not to do an entire assessment of NDC’s manifesto but to use just the basic education sector of their 2012-2016 NDC manifesto to inform the public how incompetent they are with respect to fulfilling promises, to tell them he who comes for equity must come with clean hands and again, to set the records straight on the current running mate of the NDC.
In 2012, the NDC made 58 promises under the education sector alone. Zooming in to the Basic Education sector, the party made 14 promises. Notable among them is the elimination of 60% schools under trees, review the Capitation Grant periodically to keep pace with cost levels; introduce a one-year specialised skills training programme in the various Colleges of Education for the training of teachers for the kindergarten and day care classes, ensure improvements in Special Needs Education etc. At page 14 of their 2016 manifesto, the NDC listed 12 promises they have achieved under the “Teacher First Agenda”. Out of the 12, 8 of them were repeated promises. This is just a piece of information. The next paragraph addresses the purpose of the article.
In all the 14 promises made under the Basic education sector, the NDC was able to fulfil just three of the promises. That is the promise to accelerate ICT education by training more teachers in the subject area and continue the free supply of RLG computers to Primary and JHS as well as establishing ICT laboratories for clusters of schools, Progressively expand coverage of the School Feeding Programme to all public basic schools in rural and needy communities, continue the construction programme to eliminate the “Shift System” from the public school system. Aside these, they failed woefully in fulling their promises.
For instance, they promised to review the Capitation Grant periodically to keep pace with cost levels. The New Patriotic Party’s government introduced the Capitation Grant in 2004/2005 through a World Bank facility. It started with 81 Basic Schools. When the piloting ended, the NPP government expanded the Capitation Grant to all basic schools in the country with government funding. Government was spending GHC3 on each child. In 2008, the NDC under late Prof. Mills promised to increase the capitation grant from GHC 3 to GHC 17 per child. When they won the election, it was increased from GHC3 to GHC 4.50 per child. In their 2012 manifesto under Mahama and Naana Opoku Agyemang, the NDC promised to increase the capitation grant again. This time, not a pesewa was added by them. NPP took over in 2017 and increased the capitation grant from 4.50p to 9.0 per child, about 100% increase. It again increased it to GHC10 the following year, making it 122% incremental jump.
Again, the NDC promised to eliminate the remaining 60% of identified ‘Schools-Under-Trees’. In their 2012 manifesto, they claimed to have eliminated 40% of such schools under tree. That is, they built 1,700 out of 4,300 schools under tree. For the 2012 elections, the NDC promised to eliminate the remaining 60% of these schools. However, at the end of 2016, they had managed to build 1,614 out of these schools. This means they couldn’t do 37% of the 60% they promised. That is about 986 schools under tree were not touched. The interesting but inconsistent thing under this section is, the 60% represented 2,600 schools under trees. However, when they were accounting for them in 2016, they only accounted for 2,578 schools. Where the remaining 22 schools from the number went to, no one knows.
Finally, the NDC promised to ensure improvements in Special Needs Education. There is a wise saying that if you are unable to provide for your in-laws, you don’t steal from them. To wit, if you cannot assist people in need, you do not take from them, what is theirs. Sadly, that was the situation the NDC put our brothers and sister in the Special Schools through. While they couldn’t fulfil the promise of improving the Special Needs School, the financial allocation due them was denied them. At the end of 2016, the government that promised to improve their conditions owed them a feeding grant of GHC 4.7 million.
These are just few of the many unfilled promises the NDC made to the people of Ghana. Analysis sector by sector, juxtaposing the promises they made to what they claimed to have achieved, one comes to one conclusion. And that is, their manifesto is a book full of unfulfilled promises, deceits and inconsistencies.