The United States branch of the ruling New Patriotic Party has chided former Deputy Education Minister, Samuel Okudzeto Albakwa over his recent claims on the performance of the Free SHS policy, saying he has misrepresented facts.
The North Tongu MP took to social media on July 20 and claimed the number of students who sat for the WAASCE exams in the erstwhile John Mahama administration was more than the first graduates of the NPP’s Free SHS policy.
“unimpeachable statistics from the West African Examination Council (WAEC) reveal that in 2012, a total of 174,461 candidates sat for the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE). This figure impressively shot up during the tenure of President John Mahama to 274,262 candidates who sat for the 2016 WASSCE. This represents an actual increment of a staggering 99,801. That is by some 57.2% over the period.
“Therefore, in four years President Mahama increased WASSCE candidates by 99,801 while President Akufo-Addo has increased same by only 39,575,” he said.
The NPP-USA however in a presser described the facts provided by Mr Ablakwa as “shallow, qualitatively poor in content and seriously misleading.”
“We rebut that the total number of registered SHS students for the 2020 WASSCE Examinations is 375,737 as against the 274,262 students registered in 2016. A fact that can be crossed checked with WAEC or from their website https://www.waecgh.org/wassce. Thus, an astronomical increase in excess of 100,000 students have gotten access to free quality education, students who otherwise would have been denied SHS education in the past but for the free SHS introduced by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo and the NPP government,” the USA NPP said in a statement.
Below are details of the statement.
The NPP-USA has taken note of an article on social media authored by Hon. Ablakwa Okudzeto, MP for North Tongu, with the usual misrepresentation of facts, and mischief ridden analysis undeserving to have come from a member of parliament and a former deputy minister of education as such in recent past.
We deemed the analysis shallow, qualitatively poor in content and seriously misleading. As such, we wish to respond by setting the facts of the issue devoid of propaganda and mischief as follows:
We rebut that the total number of registered SHS students for the 2020 WASSCE Examinations is 375,737 as against the 274,262 students registered in 2016. A fact that can be crossed checked with WAEC or from their website https://www.waecgh.org/wassce. Thus, an astronomical increase in excess of 100,000 students have gotten access to free quality education, students who otherwise would have been denied SHS education in the past but for the free SHS introduced by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and the NPP government.
Any discussion of numbers cannot be complete without the qualitative assessment and narrative of the Free SHS as per the following:
A. The cost of expenditure on the 375,737 students taking the exams, as the first beneficiaries of the free SHS was budgeted for and paid by the NPP government, ensuring expanded access to education as compared to the 274,262 students that paid for their SHS education themselves under John Mahama as President. Clearly, free SHS saved these students and their families this cost and also increased or expanded intake in excess of 100,000 students.
B. The policy of 30% allocation for students from poor performing schools or communities into high performing schools is an issue of social equity and has greater impact for such students and our country.
C. The massive provision of infrastructure being built through innovative and unprecedented pre-financing arrangements such as securitization is a big game changer and an efficient use of public funds for maximum benefits.
D. The revamp of the Ghana Buffer Stock company and the provision of food to the students under Free SHS ensures that suppliers no longer hunt headmasters for the payment for food supplied to their schools. Additionally, each day student is given at least one free meal each school day.
The above, notwithstanding taking the number of final year students in any one year as a measure of success of the flagship policy is simplistic and mediocre at best. The program covers all students from SHS 1 to SHS3, and the benefits cannot be limited to a shallow and myopic analysis of only the first batch of beneficiaries sitting or exiting the program via the 2020 WASSCE exams.
Facts do not cease to exist just because a sitting MP and a former Minister of Education has chosen to ignore it with laziness. Any debate on the successes and challenges of the Free SHS is welcoming, but it must be done in its proper context with candor and respect to the people of Ghana who have embraced it perpetually.
We remain informed citizens!