Former President John Mahama has for the umpteenth time taken issues with the Free Senior High School (SHS) policy, leaving nobody in doubt about how he intends to scrap it should he win the 2020 election.
Seeking to gain a political windfall from private school owners, who after all would rather the policy did not take off, he told the leadership of the Ghana National Council for Private Schools last Wednesday what was music to their ears: review the policy within 90 days of assuming power.
The Free SHS policy has driven the admission traffic towards public schools, thereby reducing those opting for the private ones.
The former president has not relented in displaying his open ‘hatred’ for children enjoying free education and is on record to have said that the Akufo-Addo government is wasting too many resources on Free SHS policy, leaving other sectors behind.
After discovering the political consequences of his announcement to scrap the policy in a previous attack, he quickly made a remarkable U-turn recently claiming he would repackage it and not scrap it.
Most Ghanaians at the time took his U-turn with a pinch of salt.
Since then, however, he has taken a consistent swipe at the policy which, according to him, was arrived at without consultation with stakeholders.
90 Days Review
Last week, he was once more unable to contain his angst against the policy when he said within 90 days of his assuming power, he would review it through ‘a consultation with stakeholders.’
Bettering the Policy
The policy in its current state, he noted, is not good and so he would ensure that as President it is bettered.
His glaring disdain for the policy has reduced his esteem among many parents of beneficiaries of the policy.
He has not relented on his incessant haranguing about government’s refusal to listen to him when he made a proposal about consultative and stakeholders meetings, whose input he says should be included in the project. Inconsistencies
Former President John Mahama led a campaign against the Free SHS initiative when the then flag bearer of the NPP Nana Akufo-Addo and his party put it out on the public space as part of his party’s manifesto.
He and his party mounted a heightened media campaign to counter the advantages of the Free SHS policy using billboards, among others, the bottom-line of which was that it would threaten the quality of education.
As vacillating as he was, he quickly changed his tune by saying he would embark on a progressive Free SHS; the ambiguity which reduced him to a laughing stock among the fraternity of political critics.
After his subtle overtures to the private school owners, he made a promise of not turning his back on them; that of course depending on if they supported him to win next polls.
Choking on Free SHS
DAILY GUIDE has written as many stories as the former president’s attacks on the policy, one of them being the subject becoming a cornerstone of the NDC’s campaign, as the country inches towards the 2020 polls.
As pointed out earlier, the former president is apprehensive of the consequences of an outright condemnation of the policy and would rather dwell on an ambiguous repackaging.
Just how, something the NDC hates and would rather have it stalled, is going to be repackaged, is a million-dollar question.
Critics described the party members as confused when they said they would ensure that education up to the SHS stage is free.
Here to Stay
It was clear that the former president was vacillating when during the official opening of the Ghana National Union of Technical Students (GNUTS) 27th Annual Residential Delegates Congress in Kumasi recently, he said “The Free SHS programme is here to stay; indeed, it is a policy that is guaranteed by the 1992 Constitution of our country, so nobody or government can reverse it.”
Bout of Confusion
“In my first three months in political office in 2021, I will call a major stakeholders meeting, where parents, guardians, and teachers, among others, would assemble to give solutions to how to properly manage the Free SHS policy,” he reportedly said about a policy he initially condemned in its entirety.
It is the core duty of every government to make the Free SHS program “qualitative and enjoyable for the students, who are the beneficiaries, and my administration will ensure just that” which is just what the free SHS policy is about anyway.
Another ploy the NDC put out as a face-saving measure was when they said they would not scrap the Free SHS but rather the Double Track System introduced as a temporary measure to address a major hurdle (accommodation) which the policy encountered.
The NDC scribe was at his political best when he instilled humor into his party’s unstable position. “It’s funny how they’ve twisted these positions and now claiming we want to abolish the Free SHS policy,” he said.
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