Opinion

Free SHS is a social intervention, Circle Interchange is not!

In retrospect, when Dr Bawumia poignantly dared the NDC operatives to claim ownership of any successful social intervention , he was, as a matter of fact, referring to “social interventionism” and not “social infrastructure or amenities”.

Social interventionism is “a pragmatic action which involves the intervention of a government or an organization in social affairs of society.”

In essence, social interventionism refers to the effective, prudent and appropriate means of ameliorating social or economic difficulties being faced by people.

Social interventionism, therefore, is an umbrella term for social intervention, social protection, social welfare or poverty alleviation.

Social interventionism, so to speak, differs from the provision of social infrastructure and amenities, such as toilets, electricity, schools, hospitals, water, roads, interchanges, amongst others.

The fact that the NDC has abysmal record on the initiation and implementation of social interventions to impact positively on society, the NDC faithful may well struggle to give any tangible response to Bawumia’s challenge.

Indeed, it would only take a doubting Thomas to challenge the fact that the NDC faithful, who take pride in the social democratic ideology, are not in the business of promoting the welfare of the masses.

The phraseology, political ideology, is used as a descriptive label for a set of ideas and values about political parties in a democratic dispensation. Political ideology, therefore, encompasses the body of ideas that undergird the conduct of political parties.

One would have thought that individuals who pride themselves as social democrats will be extremely empathetic to the needs of the masses, but this is not the case with the NDC apparatchiks.

The fact of the matter is that the NDC has a penchant for running down or cancelling crucial social interventions. It is a sad case of social democrats who do not know how to initiate and manage social interventions.

It is an established fact that the erstwhile NDC government cancelled/collapsed the Nurse’s Allowance, the Teacher’s Allowance, SADA, GYEEDA, NHIS, the Maternal Care, the School Feeding programme, the Mass Transport System, amongst others.

It is also true that the NDC operatives campaigned and voted against the poverty reduction Free SHS policy during the 2016 electioneering campaign.

As if that was not enough, the NDC loyalists have persisted with their utter disgust for the poverty alleviation Free SHS by needlessly attacking its implementation.

Given the circumstances, it will not come as a surprise at all if the future NDC government decides to cancel the programme altogether.

Since the inception of the Fourth Republican Constitution, the self-proclaimed social democrats have been opposing social interventions that have been proposed by the successive NPP governments such as the Free Maternal Care, the NHIS, the Metro Mass Transport, the School Feeding Programme, the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP), , the Free SHS, amongst others.

So it is not out of the ordinary if the NDC operatives put up fierce resistance against the seemingly innovative and advantageous double track Senior High School system and the Nation Builders Corp (NABCO) being implemented by the Akufo-Addo’s government.

In hindsight, social protection is concerned with safeguarding and supporting the poor and vulnerable, such as children, women, older people, people living with disabilities, the displaced, the unemployed, and the sick.

In effect, social protection is generally understood as public and private enterprises that give means of income to the poor and take care of the vulnerable against bread and butter issues with the main aim of reducing the economic and social hardships.

The reasons behind social protection differ very broadly, ranging from minimising poverty and vulnerability, building human capital, empowering women and girls, improving livelihoods, and responding to economic and other adversities.

Thus, the form and function of social protection programmes can be quite diverse, according to the particular intervention (Hanlon et al., 2010).

Based on the preceding explicit acceptations of social interventionism, we can confidently delineate some social interventions as: the Nurse’s Allowance, the Teacher’s Allowance, SADA, GYEEDA, NHIS, the Maternal Care, the School Feeding programme, the Mass Transport System, the Free SHS, the Nation Builders Corp (NABCO), the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP), the Disability Common Fund and the Capitation Grant.

Besides, other forms of social protection aim at long-term development and allowing people to move permanently out of poverty (Babajanian et al., 2014). Suffice it to emphasise that long-term goals include improving opportunities for inclusive growth, human capital development, equity and social stability. Some social protection programmes intend to be transformative, supporting equity, empowerment and human rights.

Some experts however contend that social protection is not only designed to alleviate poverty but also to transform lives, through implementation of policies and programmes that normalise the inequalities.

In light of the above, we can conclude that social protection is an investment in human capital which increases capacities and the accumulation of productive assets.

In essence, social protection contributes to human capital either by providing skills and services or by offering cash and access, which enable households to invest in their own development.

Apparently, a small number of countries (including India, South Africa and Uruguay) and organisations recognise social protection as a human right and an entitlement against low standards of living (Jones & Shahrokh, 2013).

In ending, given the party’s appalling track record, we can draw an adverse inference that the NDC government will cancel social interventions such as the Nation Builders Corp (NABCO) and the Free SHS if presented with another opportunity in 2020.

K. Badu, UK.

[email protected]

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