The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has stated that contrary to the assertions being made by his political opponents about the sustainability of the Free Senior High School policy, the policy is here to stay and will be sustained.
According to President Akufo-Addo, “the politically motivated propagandists and naysayers, who, in the last few years, said that Free SHS was not possible, and could happen only after 20 years, are now singing a new tune. They now claim Free SHS is not sustainable, and will crash in 5 years.”
The President continued, “Let me burst their bubble again. Free SHS is here to stay, because leadership is about choices, and I have no doubt that the overwhelming majority of Ghanaians support the choice that I have made. They recognise the importance of the investment we are making in the youth and in the future of our country. The investment will be sustained.”
President Akufo-Addo noted with dismay that “I continue to be puzzled as to the vehemence with which so-called social democrats oppose or attempt to undermine measures designed to address poverty. Their demagoguery and opportunism will always be exposed.”
The President made this known on Sunday, 26th November, 2017, when he delivered a speech at the 68th Anniversary of the Prempeh College, in Kumasi.
Prior to the launch of the Free SHS policy launch, President Akufo-Addo noted that available data indicated that Ghanaian children were falling out of the educational system at every stage in alarming numbers.
He revealed that over the last four years, for example, an average of 100,000 BECE graduates, who were placed in the country’s public senior high schools each year, did not take up their place.
“This means that, in the next decade, at least one million of our young men and women, without any employable skills, would have had their education terminated at junior high school. It would have been too dangerous for Ghana’s stability, as we would have been building a future of hopelessness for our youth,” he said.
Such a situation, the President bemoaned, “was totally unacceptable and intolerable, and I was determined to end it.”
We will deal with Free SHS challenges
Touching on the teething challenges confronting the Free SHS policy, as there would be with any new, bold initiative, President Akufo-Addo said he was inspired by the famous Chinese adage which says “a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step”.
“We have taken that first step in Ghana, and we shall deal with the challenges. In dealing with them, tenders have already gone out, and, soon, contracts will be awarded for the provision of some 69,500 mono desks, and some 13,100 bunk beds,” he said.
The President continued, “Additionally, tender notices have been issued for the supply of furniture for dining halls, staff rooms of teachers, computer laboratories, and the provision of marker boards for classrooms.”
Free SHS, President Akufo-Addo stressed, will ensure that all of Ghana’s children will be educated to at least secondary level, and money, or the lack of it, will no longer mean a denial of education.
“Already, the policy has led to an increase of over 90,000 children, who have entered senior high school this academic year, who would otherwise have dropped out at this stage,” he said.
Further, under the Secondary Education Improvement Project, the President revealed that Government has secured a $40 million loan from the World Bank for the expansion and upgrading of facilities in 75 Senior High Schools across the country.
Construction works on the existing Community Day Schools are ongoing, he said, adding that “Government will also upgrade 42 Senior High Schools into model school status.”