Former President John Dramani Mahama has replied his critics who say he will reverse the Free Senior High School (SHS) programme introduced by the Akufo-Addo government, insisting the policy is irreversible.
The flag bearer of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) said: "…The free SHS is here to stay".
Speaking at the 27th Annual Residential Delegates Congress organised by the Ghana National Union of Technical University Students in Kumasi on Wednesday, 14 August 2019, Mr Mahama said the policy is underpinned and guaranteed by the 1992 Constitution of Ghana and it cannot be overturned by any government.
"But all administrations, including this one (Akufo-Add government) and any future one has an obligation to make it a qualitative and enjoyable experience for our children. And I'm determined to make secondary education a beneficial learning experience more than the current miserable conditions our children are having to face under Nana Akufo-Addo's administration," he said.
The programme was under the theme: "Prioritisation of Technical and Vocational Education, a Vehicle to Accelerate Industrialisation".
Mr Mahama further added that: "At a later date, before the elections of 2020, I intend to lay out, in detail before all stakeholders and the good people of Ghana, our blueprint for the education sector and experientially our plan for making the free SHS programme more sustainable".
Mr Mahama said his next administration intends to continue to clear the pathway toward technical and vocational education training from the basic level through the secondary level to the tertiary level.
Just a day earlier, President Nana Akufo-Addo had said the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) and its flag bearer were yet to wake up from their dream of returning to power in the 2020 general elections after losing the 2016 polls.
Addressing the staff and students of the Bolgatanga Senior High School in the Upper West Region, as part of his 2-day working visit to that area, the president said the NDC was bent on destroying the free Senior High School programme which his administration has started, noting that: “I know that there are people in this country who don’t want this policy, who have been campaigning against this policy. They are dreaming that they are going to come back to power to cancel the policy.”
He continued: “I want them to know that they are not coming back to power, and the Free Senior High School policy has come to stay. They still haven’t woken up from their dreams; they dreamt in 2016 that they were on course for victory. They did not know that the Ghanaian people were no longer interested in entrusting them with power. They still haven’t woken up from their dreams”.
To the critics of the policy, Nana Akufo-Addo stated that the most effective answer would be for SHS 3 students, who would be sitting for next year’s WASSCE, to put up a stellar performance in their examination.
“I am confident that the results of those exams, next year, are going to show that this policy is a good policy for our development. The policy is in your hands and you can demonstrate the quality of the education that you have received by the quality of the results of next year’s exams. I have confidence that the result will be positive and everyone will say, ‘Yes, it was a good idea to go down this road. Our young men and women are benefiting, and this is the way to go for progress and development,” Nana Akufo-Addo added
The president said he will continue to channel most of Ghana’s resources into the education of Ghanaian children since education forms the bedrock of development. “We cannot develop a country unless we develop its human capital.
“The central role of education in our national development can never be overemphasised. It is the key to the future of our country and I have no hesitation in making it the central pillar of my government and administration.
“People are saying I am spending a lot of money on education and I am saying to them that it is better that we spend the money on the future of Ghana.”
With students from SHS 1 to SHS 3 all going to be beneficiaries of the Free Senior High School policy across Ghana, the President indicated that, for the first time in the nation’s history, over 1.2 million students will be enrolled in Free Senior High school education in Ghana.
“These figures have never ever been attained in the history of our country. The Minister for Education has said that enrolment in our senior high schools has gone up by 50% since the policy was introduced and this policy has come to stay,” he added.
On why he is spending a lot of resources on education, Nana Akufo-Addo explained that “it is better that we spend the money on the future of Ghana, rather than just consuming it and ‘chopping’ the money amongst ourselves. Before I became President, in my campaign I said that I was prepared to use the oil money to educate our children and not to allow it to go into the pockets of politicians and civil servants, and that is exactly what I am doing.”