Information Minister-designate, Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah, has taken a swipe at former President John Mahama for repeatedly questioning the ‘sense’ in the implementation of the Free Senior High School and double track programs.
Government rolled out the Free SHS policy in September 2017 in fulfilment of its campaign promise in the build to the 2016 general election.
A year after its implementation, a number of challenges such as the non-availability of space forced government to adopt a double track system. The system divides the entire student body and staff into two different tracks. So while one track is in school, the other is on vacation and vice-versa.
Addressing party faithfuls at the Cape Coast North constituency in the Central Region during a tour ahead of his party's presidential primaries, Mr. Mahama promised to review the policy if elected President in December 2020.
He argued that the policy is struggling because government failed to assemble experts and stakeholders for a national conference on education to deliberate on the policy.
"Our NPP friends, they don't listen to advice, they think they know everything… We just finished vacation. Children have been at home for nearly three months. It is time to go to school you say you have to stay at home for nearly 41 days and let your friends go. After 41 days they will come home and sit down..it doesn't make sense,” he criticized.
Responding to Mahama’s comments, Mr. Oppong-Nkrumah at a press conference, Sunday, said it makes a lot of sense to give 500,000 extra students free education.
“It is not senseless, to give some an extra 500,000 students free education in Akufo-Addo’s first term. It is the 500,000 extra students who we project will get free education in these first four years of President Akufo-Addo’s tenure that Mahama is speaking to. He is telling them that on his watch, they’d probably still be home by now… We do not think it is senseless to save about 400,000 beneficiaries a year the cost that comes with secondary education,” he noted.
Oppong-Nkrumah however indicated that the NPP was not overwhelmed by Mahama’s comment on the policy due to his constant opposition even during the campaign periods in the build up to the 2016 general election.
“Others may be shocked that a former President who in his days was noted for calling on Ghanaians to be optimistic and not cynical about national programs, will be the one to make such a comment to undermine a national program. The Akufo-Addo government is not the least surprised. Mr. Mahama has never been in support of the Free SHS program. You recall that he campaigned heavily against it even as a sitting President”, he said.
NDC’s review of Free SHS will collapse policy – Akufo-Addo
President Akufo-Addo says former president John Mahama’s suggestion for a review of the Free Senior High School policy will not make the policy any better; rather, it would collapse.
He is however sure that Ghanaians, knowing the track record of the National Democratic Congress, will not vote the party back to power.
“I am alarmed by this concept of review,” Akufo-Addo lamented, adding, “This is because anytime our political opponents try anything of this sort, it leads the policy in question into a coma. We all remember the NHIS one-term premium payment review pledge. Not only did the review not materialize, but they also succeeded in degrading the policy.”
He continued, “I honestly suspect reviewing the Free SHS policy means collapsing it. But, I doubt the Ghanaian people will allow this brilliant policy to be collapsed by anyone.”
Akufo-Addo made this known on Friday, 28th September, 2018, when he addressed a townhall meeting of Ghanaians resident in Washington DC, as part of his trip to the United States of America for the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly.