A former Chief of Defense Staff, Brigadier Joseph Nunoo-Mensah, has criticized President Akufo-Addo over what he calls a hasty implementation of the Free SHS program.
According to him, the government should have piloted the program before rolling it out fully across the country.
He believes that many of the challenges bedeviling the program could have been avoided if it had been done on a pilot in a few schools.
Speaking at a forum on vigilantism in Ghana, the former military officer and politician, suggested that, the infrastructural challenges being faced by the program so far, was indicative of the penchant of politicians to make unattainable promises just to win votes.
“In the military, you don’t promise and fail. It is deadly. There will be mutiny and the result will be deadly. But the politician promises all kinds of things to get people to vote for them. That was one of the major problems that I couldn’t agree when I was a politician. In the Daily Graphic of Tuesday, the headmistress of Winneba SHS said the Free SHS is giving her a lot of headaches that they have to close down the school, they cannot feed the students and send the students home.”
“If you are going to have an experiment, a new policy, test it. Check from one secondary school to see the effect of it, but if you jump around it, there will be all kinds of problem. You don’t do things like that, you can’t launch a major policy like this and all these problems. You make a promise to win power and you find that it is difficult to implement the promises you made…. I am cautioning them,” he said.
The theme for the forum, which was held at the GIMPA Law faculty on Wednesday, was organized by the Institute of Law and Public Affairs in partnership with the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung under theme, “The Scars of Vigilantism: a legal or political question?”
Free SHS challenges
The New Patriotic Party (NPP) government launched its flagship educational program Free SHS in September 2017, to increase access to education by removing the payment of fees from public Senior High Schools.
Despite the enthusiasm over the launch of the program, the program has been fraught with many challenges including lack of canteens, furniture and other infrastructure in most schools.
In some schools, students do not benefit from the government’s promised free lunch as part of the program, but the government has said that it is working to address the challenges.