Former President John Mahama’s claim to have started the Free Senior High School policy being implemented by President Nana Akufo-Addo, is “driven by ill-faith, deception and opportunism”, the National Youth Organiser of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), Henry Nana Boakye has said.
According to him, what the presidential candidate of the main opposition claims was Free SHS under him was a “lame” subsidy programme for students.
Mr Boakye, in a statement issued on Thursday, December 3 2020, said Mr Mahama’s claim betrays his “innate tendencies to harvest what he didn’t sow”.
Mr Mahama recently said he was the inventor and initiator of the Free Senior High School policy, adding that it makes no sense for anybody to say he will scrap it should he become President again.
“Free SHS is not going anywhere, Free SHS has come to stay and, so, if anybody tells you anything different, tell the person he is lying”, he told party supporters in Navrongo, Upper East Region during one of his campaign tours.
Mr Mahama insisted: “I started Free SHS in 2015. I launched it. The video is there. It’s on social media. I’m sure many of you have seen it”.
He explained: “We started with day students and then in 2016, we added boarding students and this government [Akufo-Addo administration] came and continued”.
“How will a person who started a programme then come and abolish it?” Mr Mahama wondered.
The former President promised that his next government will rather fix the problems with the implementation of the initiative.
“The NDC is going to make Free SHS better. We are going to improve the Free SHS. We were building community schools. We didn’t finish before we left. We finished some of them. Today, there are children in some of them. Others, too, were very near completion.
“This government came and abandoned all of them.
“And, so, let me tell you what we’ll do: when we come, we’ll fast-track the completion of the 200 schools we were building so that children can have enough vacancies in secondary schools to be able to get a quality education.
“And I’ve made a promise to the people of Ghana and I’m repeating it here in Navrongo: that if I become president or should I say when I become president, I promise the people of Ghana that within one year, I will abolish the double-track system”.
However, Mr Boakye, popularly known as Nana B, said: “Under the holistic and impactful Free SHS policy of President Akufo-Addo, tuition is free; admission fee is free, library fee is free; science center is free, computer lab fee is free; utility fee is free; textbooks are free; boarding fee is free; nutritious meals are given for free to both Boarding and Day Students.”
More than 1.2 million students, he noted, have benefited from the “Akufo-Addo Free SHS programme, which has expanded access to secondary education and enabled an extra 400,000 students to enrol in senior high schools, whose education would have been truncated had this programme not been implemented by the NPP government.”
He said the results of the 2020 West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE) organised by the West Africa Examination Council (WAEC) showed that this is the only year in the past six years that more than 50% of candidates obtained A1 – C6 in all core subjects.
“This clearly demonstrates that quality was not compromised in implementing Akufo-Addo’s Free SHS programme,” he said.
“What this meant was that, Day Students who were the only beneficiaries had to pay an average of GHC370 school fees each term. This was woefully insignificant and couldn’t reduce the number of qualified students who were unable to go to SHS upon gaining admission and also students who dropped out as a result of poverty. Let me hasten to add that, under this lame subsidy, Boarding Students who were in the majority paid full fees and other related expenses.”
“It is instructive to note that, the little over GHS30 million cost associated with the SHS subsidy under the Mahama government was not paid. The NPP government upon assumption of office, had to clear up the arrears and clean up the mess. It is therefore shameful for Candidate Mahama to tout a failed policy he was unable to fund.”
Mr Boakye also described the NDC’s recently-announced ‘Fa Ninyinaa’ policy which promises to absorb the fees of all first-years in the university, as “an ill-conceived campaign promise, smuggled through the back door to add up to the litany of their failed and uninspiring manifesto promises”.
“The shambolic FA NINYINAA promise, being the last straw that the NDC desperately seek to anchor their drowning campaign on, barely a week to the elections, is not only a propaganda tool but also a sickening scam directed at downplaying the intelligence of voters,” he said.
“Isn’t it strange that the people who supposedly asked for KYEMUPE at a delicate period when COVID-19 had slowed economic activities, would vary their demand and ask for FA NINYINAA when economic activities have picked up momentum according to reliable data from Ghana Statistical Service and Bank of Ghana? The flip-flop disposition of Candidate Mahama and his NDC tells us that they are confused, bereft of ideas and desperate to win political power with plain lies, fabricated falsehood and deceptive campaign promises,” he said.