Akufo-Addo clashes with Mahama over Free SHS policy
President Akufo-Addo says former president John Mahama’s suggestion for a review of the Free Senior High School policy will not make the policy any better; rather, it would collapse.
He is however sure that Ghanaians, knowing the track record of the National Democratic Congress, will not vote the party back to power.
“I am alarmed by this concept of review,” Akufo-Addo lamented, adding, “This is because anytime our political opponents try anything of this sort, it leads the policy in question into a coma. We all remember the NHIS one-term premium payment review pledge. Not only did the review not materialize, but they also succeeded in degrading the policy.”
He continued, “I honestly suspect reviewing the Free SHS policy means collapsing it. But, I doubt the Ghanaian people will allow this brilliant policy to be collapsed by anyone.”
Akufo-Addo made this known on Friday, 28th September, 2018, when he addressed a townhall meeting of Ghanaians resident in Washington DC, as part of his trip to the United States of America for the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly.
According to him, his decision to introduce SHS meant Africa could compete with other world leaders in education including Asia, Europe and America.
“...This obviously cannot be the level of education we dream of giving to our young generation, in order for them to compete in the labour and ideas generation market, that are excellently represented by continents such as Asia, America, Latin America, Europe, etc.,” he said.
“‘The policy is a hoax’, ‘the bearer is a liar’, ‘it is undoable’, ‘we need more time’, ‘it’s not a good idea’, are just some phrases used to describe their reactions. But this, obviously, is the nature of our politics, so we understood,” he added.
Addressing party faithfuls at the Cape Coast North constituency in the Central Region during a tour ahead of his party's presidential primaries, Mr. Mahama promised to review the policy if elected President in December 2020.
He argued that the policy is struggling because government failed to assemble experts and stakeholders for a national conference on education to deliberate on the policy.
"Our NPP friends, they don't listen to advice, they think they know everything… We just finished vacation. Children have been at home for nearly three months. It is time to go to school you say you have to stay at home for nearly 41 days and let your friends go. After 41 days they will come home and sit down..it doesn't make sense,” he criticised.
Double Track System
In response to high enrollment rates in Senior High Schools since government implemented the flagship policy in September 2017, the Education Ministry announced the introduction of the double track system.
The system divides the entire student body and staff into two different tracks. So while one track is in school, the other is on vacation and vice-versa.
In the midst of the criticisms against the move, President Akufo-Addo insists there is nothing unusual or strange about the double track system, since it has worked very well in many countries that have practiced it effectively.
“I have always been encouraged by the attitude of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, who took a decision on the grounds that empowerment of the young generation through education was very critical in nation building, even when there are challenges. He held the view that, even though there were challenges, there was the need to still introduce the policy (Accelerated Development Plan for Education),” he said.
“I naturally ascribe to same school of thought that, there may few challenges, i.e. the high numbers with the introduction of Free SHS, and the high deficit in infrastructure at that level, nevertheless it is opening the gains for more young persons to have access. That’s exactly what we have done by introducing the double track system,” he added.