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Opinions Sun, 29 Jul 2018

Did President Akufo-Addo rush into implementing the Free SHS Policy?

The debate on the NPP's flagship policy continues unabated. Those who vehemently kicked against have not stopped their criticism on it because they see it as an electoral ammunition to nail them in 2020 and beyond.

One school of thought, however, argues that His Excellency, Nana Akufo-Addo rushed into implementing Free SHS right after his swearing in.

To them, the president should have waited till the 2020 election year so that by that time, he would have saved a lot of money to fix the educational infrastructure and address other teething problems. This, no doubt, is a sound political argument by all standards.

But, I, Katakyie Kwame Opoku Agyemang, disagree with them. For those of us who appreciate the value of education just like the President, there wasn't any rush for the implementation of the policy.

Those who say the NPP rushed probably are not aware that, 90,000 Ghanaian kids benefited from the programme this academic year, aside from over 270,000 kids. Next academic year (2018/19), 181,993 kids are going to benefit. This gives us 271,993 kids for two years.

The question is, what would have been the fate of these young kids, had the NPP waited for a year or two? At least, we would have gotten a sizeable number of armed robbers, thieves, prostitutes, dog chain sellers, drunkards, etc. Which money would be used to combat crime posed by these would-be unfortunate kids? Remember, Ataa Ayi alone can turn Ghana around by making our lives insecure.

Again, let me ask; had the NPP not started the programme last year, do you think that money could have been made available to anybody? Maybe and just maybe, some people would have wished the money be given to Woyome, Brazil '14, SUBAH, GYEEDA, or buy V8s and be distributed to young girls or rear guinea fowls to fly to Burkina. What at all is the use of our oil money, and other mineral resources, if I may ask?

Governance is about priorities and the President has been categorical about that. That, he will choose to invest in the children now than never. I am told no country has been able to offer free boarding to all her kids. Dr Nkrumah started it exclusively in the North and after 60 years, it has been expanded to every corner in Ghana under the President Nana Akufo-Addo.

Ghana is now a pacesetter so other countries should also follow us. We cannot always follow other nations. Since all of us cannot stop giving birth to kids and we want them to have the quality education, the best we can do is to stop corruption, pay your tax as a citizen, prioritise our needs as a government and improve agriculture and I can assure you that, free SHS will be sustained. One Region cannot continue to enjoy free boarding after 60 years. It is time for all Regions to benefit.

Dr Nkrumah could not fix all educational infrastructure problems before he introduced the Northern Scholarship Scheme. As the programme has started, challenges would be identified the government would fix them as we move along. Let's commend and support the NPP government to make this policy, a sustainable one.

Katakyie Kwame Opoku Agyemang

(Asante-Bekwai Asakyiri)

Columnist: Katakyie Kwame Opoku Agyemang