Pastor Mensah Otabil
Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com
By William Yaw Owusu
Accra, Tuesday October 30, 2012
The highly polarised debate about whether senior high school education should be free has heightened with the purported comment by Pastor Mensa Otabil General Overseer of International Central Gospel Church (ICGC) that it cannot be possible.
Media reports have it that the revered man of God made the comment last Tuesday at one of the church’s programmes dubbed ‘Wholesome Living’ but his office has reacted saying Pastor Otabil did not make such comment on that occasion.
According to Reverend Kofi Okyere, a leading pastor of ICGC, Pastor Otabil who owns a fee paying private university has never hidden the fact that he is against the idea that education should be free but the forum attributed to him was wrong.
Not certain about the period in which the ICGC Overseer made the comment, Rev. Okyere told DAILY GUIDE via telephone that it must have been made when the Pastor defended his fee paying policy when the Central University College (CUC) was established.
“The statement was made when we had the university running. This was the time in when the debate about tertiary education was raging. The statement was made long time ago when no political party was even promising free education.”
“We are not going to issue any statement”, when asked by DAILY GUIDE to clarify what was really said. “We do not want to be in the game of argument. He never made a statement targeting any particular party. It is not our desire to fight political ideology.”
Pastor Otabil on the tape has criticized free education saying that anything free cannot be of good quality and will make fathers irresponsible.
However, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) which has been touting the free SHS policy as their flagship manifesto promise said it was very much committed to ensuring that the policy is implemented when given the chance to govern after the December general elections.
A statement issued in Accra yesterday and signed by Nana Akomea, the party’s Communications Director said “The NPP has taken note of comments by Pastor Mensa Otabil on free education. We hold Pastor Otabil in the highest regard but, we disagree with his comments on state funding of free education.”
He said the NPP’s free SHS would include quality with the teacher and infrastructure development and expansion at the centre of the policy.
“Surely if every Ghanaian had a well paying job, there may be no need for free SHS. But when can we reach the state where everybody has a well paying job? And how about the millions of Ghanaian parents who are not in formal employment or any employment at all and do not receive salary? We do not believe free SHS will demean any parent.”
Nana Akomea noted that “if some of these comments had been given full sway, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah may not have been able to introduce Free SHS in the North of our country in the 1950s, which initiative has been so beneficial to our country.”
He said the NPP remains committed to spending tax payer’s monies in a judicious manner adding “We remain committed to ensuring that every Ghanaian child has access to free SHS, including Senior Vocational/Technical High School. The vast majority of our people have warmly embraced the promise of the policy…We will not fail them.”
On his sermon which is in dispute, Pastor Otabil had preached about responsible parenting and urged the congregant to “Take a personal vow that you will not bring a child to this world who will live less than the life you lived.”
He said “If your father took you to school up to primary level go beyond that….now they say it is going to be free…so you have no problem there…but you know the free one…free is good but if you really want to give your children education you are going to pay…you will pay!”
He had said if they failed to pay for their children’s education “The knowledge they will bring home to you…..(he laughs) but it is minimal…if the government is going to take care of your children’s education that is great but I don’t think a man should say well…now I can produce children because…no! no! You have to be more responsible.”