General News of Tue, 14 Feb 201769
Mahama made free SHS possible not Akufo-Addo - Okudzeto
Former deputy Minister of Education, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, has observed that the Akufo-Addo led administration is able to roll out the free Senior High School programme for the 2017/2018 academic year due to strategic investments he inherited from his predecessor.
The former Minister of Education in charge of tertiary revealed that former President Mahama relied on available data in implementing his vision of the progressively free SHS policy.
President Mahama's investment in the educational sector has yielded positive results and Mr. Ablakwa observes that “Over the last consecutive years, Ghana has been awarded the best WASSCE performing country because of the strategic investment that Mahama made.”
He continued that during the tenure of the NDC, they could have easily decided to make education in second cycle schools free but explained that "Looking at the statistics that we had at the time, it wouldn’t have been feasible in terms of access because there weren’t enough SHS . . . There was acute shortage of secondary schools and it could have affected quality of education.”
Hon. Okudzeto Ablakwa noted in an interview on Radio Gold that former President Mahama, laid a solid foundation in the educational sector by expanding access to Senior High School.
“President Mahama laid a very solid foundation and that is why it is possible for President Akufo-Addo to start the implementation of free SHS this academic year,” he said.
Last Saturday, President Akufo-Addo reassured Ghanaians that his government will fund the cost of public Senior High Schools for all those who qualify for entry from the 2017/2018 academic year onwards.
In addition to tuition which is already free, President Nana Akufo-Addo noted that there will be “no admission fees, no library fees, no science centre fees, no computer lab fees, no examination fees, no utility fees; there will be free textbooks, free boarding and free meals, and day students will get a meal at school for free.”
The President maintained that he is willing to take Ghana to the stage where public Senior High School education will be free for every Ghanaian child.
To add to this, Hon. Okudzeto Ablakwa stated that had the past NDC administration not taken the toil to add community day SHS to the already existing schools, it would have been challenging for Nana Addo to fund the cost of public Senior High Schools.
According to him, the decision by the NPP administration to make SHS free “isn’t a departure from the NDC’s own programme of action. If you look at the NDC’s model, it was progressively free which we were implementing. It was a policy taken from the 1992 constitution.”
“You would notice that when President Mahama was in power, he decided to do first things first. It wouldn’t be possible to implement a policy that is well thought-out without expanding access . . . The framers of the constitution knew the challenges confronting the second cycle institutions, that is why the provision of the progressively free senior high secondary school was made,” he added.