General News of Sun, 14 Apr 2019123

Free SHS taking on too much students – ‘Bitter’ Mahama weeps

Former President John Mahama appears to be seriously bitter over the access being given to thousands of Ghanaian students, especially those from poor homes, under the Free Senior High School (SHS) programme.

He has expressed his frustration with the large intake of students under the programme, even though poor students are those who are mainly benefiting from it.

Speaking at the University of Cape Coast (UCC) in the Central Region on Thursday, April 11, 2019, Mr. Mahama stated “what we are doing with this huge influx into the secondary school system [due to the free SHS programme]…is going to affect the quality of the public schools.”

He went on to predict doom for the pro-poor programme, saying “and soon we are going to find a system where people lose faith in public schools and everybody will pay to take their wards to private secondary schools. That is the danger we are talking about.”

There has been a large intake of students since the President Akufo-Addo’s administration started the program in September 2017.

The first year of the programme recorded an upsurge in enrollment, with about 400,000 students starting school in the 2017/18 academic year.

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The large intake forced Government through the Education Ministry, to introduce the Double Track System which was intended to give many more students the opportunity to benefit from Free Senior High School education.

GHc1.682 billion had been earmarked for the implementation of the Free SHS programme in the 2019 budget.

This means that the number of enrollment is bound to further increase exponentially.



Anger

But Mahama appears even angry over the high financial investments the Government is making in order to empower Ghanaian children.

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He raised concerns about the investment of GH¢2 billion by the government in Free Senior High School alone in the second semester to the detriment of other sectors of the economy.

According to him, high investments in Free SHS has the tendency to negatively affect education and collapse the sector.



The former President whose National Democratic Congress (NDC) claims to be a socialist party and as such expected to be pro-poor, has been kicking against the Free SHS programme which is benefitting poor students and their parents.

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