Former Deputy Education Minister, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, has asked the New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration not to claim glory for being the first to commence free senior high school (SHS) education in the country.
According to him, his party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), first started Free SHS in 2014 with a total of 10,400 students.
President Akufo-Addo’s NPP government has announced that the Free SHS programme will start this month (September) with the first-year students in all the public senior high schools in the country.
Speaking at a press conference on Monday, September 4, the current Deputy Minister of Education, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, urged parents and guardians not to pay any fees demanded by heads of senior high schools since the government was taking care of all such expenses.
“Students are not supposed to pay any fees,” he said, adding, “As a matter of fact, PTA-levied fees like utilities, development levy, and even teacher motivation are going to be paid by the government. As a result, we’ve made it abundantly clear to headmasters that money should not be the reason why a student should not go to school. Therefore no parent should receive a bill.”
Dr Adutwum added, “Even if PTA meets and decides in consultation with GES that there is something they want to do and they want parents to contribute, it will not be mandatory. If Mr Kojo Mensah doesn’t have money to make that contribution for his ward, the student will not be prevented from going to school.”
But speaking on Asempa FM’s ‘Ekosii Sen’ programme on Monday, Mr Ablakwa said, “I think the NDC as a party we need to improve on our communication strategy. Free SHS is not starting in Ghana on the 11th of September this year; it is not President Akufo-Addo who is starting free SHS and many people don’t know this.”
He indicated that NDC “…had a loan facility from the World Bank under the Secondary Education Improvement Programme.
“Under this there were four components – the first was to build the 23 senior high schools, the second component was the training we provided for Maths, Science and ICT teachers and there was a third component called Quality Improvement Facility upgrade, and the fourth categorically was the scholarships for needy senor high school students.”
He said, “The agreement we signed with the World Bank for the next five years at that time – 2014 to 2019 – was on granting scholarships and implementing free SHS for 10,400 students.”
“There are over 400,000 SHS students nationwide and the current administration is not relying on loan to finance the programme.
“Also when compared to the 424,092 students who are expected to benefit from the NPP’s Free SHS policy in its first year, the 10,400 figure mentioned by Ablakwa is just a peanut,” an educational analyst observed.
The NDC appears worried about the implementation of the Free SHS programme this month, as President Akufo-Addo is seemingly bent on fulfilling his campaign promise to the Ghanaian people.
President Akufo-Addo has been very swift in honouring his pledges to Ghanaians and that is apparently causing panic within the NDC camp.
It’s unclear why Ablakwa is even claiming that his party started the free SHS education when indeed, the NDC had vehemently pointed out that it was not possible to implement Free SHS policy in Ghana, but rather the country should focus on quality education – the very reason for which ex-President Mahama opted to build some 200 Community High Schools nationwide, a project he (Mahama) woefully failed to complete before being booted out of power in a disgraceful manner in 2016.