There is an overwhelming support from Ghanaians for the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government’s flagship free Senior High School (SHS) policy, a research has revealed.
According to the report of the poll titled ‘Eyes On The Big Issues,’ about 72.59 percent of Ghanaians were in full support of the Free SHS as against 27.41 percent who opposed the policy.
“We found support for it (free SHS) to be strongest among the most educated. Men were more likely to be in favour than women,” according to the report.
The poll was reportedly conducted to gauge the views of Ghanaians on a number of issues that have dominated public discourse in recent times.
The aim was to get a broad picture of the national mood by assessing the views of the public on the free SHS, the proposed construction of the National Cathedral, Ghana’s $2 billion barter deal with China, among others.
Views of 1,072 respondents, who reportedly came from various parts of the country, were taken between September 29 and October 7 2018.
About 44.07 percent of men were in support of the free SHS policy, 14.72 percent male said no to the policy while 28.52 percent women were in support of it and 12.70 percent said no to it.
However, the majority of respondents were reportedly against the government’s double track system as far as implementation of the policy is concerned.
About 40.20 percent of Ghanaians were in favour of the double track system while 59.80 percent reportedly said no to it.
“Men were more likely to oppose double track, however, as were those with tertiary education or higher,” the report said, adding that “generally, we also found great opposition amongst 18-31 age demographics.
At the regional level, according to the report, whereas there was majority rejection of double track system, Brong Ahafo respondents, were however, in favour of double track system, with respondents in Western and Eastern Regions reportedly divided over the issue.
The report is coming out at time when former President John Mahama, for apparent political expediency, is campaigning against the implementation of the programme which has helped over 270,000 students to gain admission to SHSs since its inception in September 2017.
Mr. Mahama, who has not hidden his aversion to the free SHS programme, announced plans to scrap it if given the chance to lead Ghana again even though the policy is a social initiative that should have been in line with his National Democratic Congress (NDC’s) vision for the country as the party claims to be a social democratic party.
During a campaign tour recently in Cape Coast, Mr. Mahama stated that the Free SHS policy was implemented at a bad time.
According to him, instead of free SHS, he would revisit the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) originally introduced in 2000 to provide scholarships to underprivileged youth.
He stated that “Our NPP friends…they don’t listen to advice. They think they know everything.”
He said after scrapping it, he will then set a timetable when to start again.
But it appears the majority of Ghanaians for whom Mr. Mahama is gearing up to review or scrap the policy are rather with President Akufo-Addo, and apparently do not see any logic in scraping such a highly important social intervention that is lessening the plight of parents, especially the poor ones.
Meanwhile, the research revealed that a clear majority of respondents were against the idea of government using Ghana’s natural resources in a barter deal with China, as well as constructing a national cathedral.
The younger population was very critical of the cathedral project.
The majority of Ghanaians, according to the report, said the government must pay attention to the country’s economy.