A development economist and senior lecturer at the University for Development Studies (UDS), Dr Michael Ayamga-Adongo, has described President Nana Akufo-Addo’s Free Senior High School programme as one that is “systematically destroying” the education of Ghanaian children while the implementers send their children to “expensive dollar-denominated schools”.
Currently, 1.2 million students are enjoying the Free SHS programme through the double-track system.
Dr Ayamga-Addo wrote on social media that: “Gold SHS students went back to school almost in the third week of November. We all know our education system. First week, no serious class if any. Out of the remaining 3 weeks, teachers went on strike for a week. In the third week of December, they were on vacation. So, effectively, you sent your wards to school for 2 weeks to learn without textbooks and they are back home till march.
“You can go on shouting free SHS. Those who claim god-status for this systematic destruction of our kids have theirs in "EXPENSIVE DOLLAR-DENOMINATED SCHOOLS" while yours is being beckoned by the wee smokers in your neighbourhood.
“The problem is: when your wards grow up as well-schooled illiterates, the FREE SHS gods will be well-placed to give their Western-educated children high-paying government appointments claiming they are competent. Only that this time they will be right.
“Each day you rise, look at your ward wasting away and ask yourself whether you are doing right by failing to fight for their future”, he noted.
In November this year, the President said told senior high school heads who are scheming to sabotage the programme that they will fail in that quest.
“I can tell them that they will not succeed”, the President said at a durbar organised in his honour by the chiefs and people of Dzolokpuita in the Volta Region on the final day of his two-day tour of that part of the country.
“They will not stand in the way of the future of our nation”, the President vowed.
He also criticised politicians who felt that their political fortunes were threatened by the Free SHS programme, bemoaning: “We have such politicians in Ghana”.
“But that's our lot”, he regretted, adding: “We will deal with it, that's not a problem, we will deal with it.”
According to President Akufo-Addo, the development of the country’s human capital is what will enable Ghana transition from her current state into one of progress and prosperity, and thereby lift the standard of living of every Ghanaian.
Speaking with the staff and students of Mawuli Senior High School on Tuesday, 5 November 2019, the President indicated that prior to his coming into office, an average of 100,000 children, annually, could not transition from Junior High School into Senior High School because of financial constraints.
“We couldn't progress as a nation if we continued the haemorrhage of our human capital. 100,000 on the average every year for over ten years, one million young Ghanaians would grow up with the knowledge that they have at the Junior High school level and that's it? That's no way our future could be bright,” he said.
That's why, the President noted, that his government took the decision “right from the beginning of our administration that we were going to change the direction of our country, we were going to change the educational policy of our country and bring in the Free Senior High School so that those 100,000 that could not be captured in Senior High, now they are captured.”
With 1.2 million students currently in Senior High schools across the country, 400,000 more than the total number of students enrolled before the outset of Free SHS, this is the highest number of Ghanaian youths in SHS.
With the Free SHS policy being financed by the country’s oil revenues, the President stated that: “I don't have any regrets whatsoever about committing the oil revenues of our country to prepare our nation for the future. It is the best, most efficient, most equitable way all of us can participate in those revenues.”
President Akufo-Addo stressed that the oil revenues “are not there, sitting there, waiting for politicians like me to come and put their hands in oil revenues in their pockets, no. It is being used to prepare our nation for the future of our country. That's the best way we can use the oil revenues.”
“My modest contribution to the growth of Ghana is to make sure that we are not left out of the progress that is ahead of us in the 21st century,” he added.