Former President John Dramani Mahama is once again back with his hot and cold ‘drama’ on the implementation and sustainability of the Free Senior High School (SHS) initiative.
Mr. Mahama in April 2019 appeared so unhappy with the opportunity given to tens of thousands of Ghanaian students, especially those from poor homes to access education under the Free SHS programme.
He had expressed frustration with the large intake of students under the programme, even though poor students are mainly benefitting from the laudable initiative of the current Akufo-Addo administration.
He stated in April that the huge influx of students would affect the quality of public schools.
Speaking at the University of Cape Coast (UCC) in the Central Region on Thursday where the NDC organised a lecture on the state of education in Ghana, Mr. Mahama stated that “what we are doing with this huge influx into the secondary school system [due to the free SHS programme] is going to affect the quality of the public schools.”
He went on to predict doom for the pro-poor policy, saying, “and soon we are going to find a system where people lose faith in public schools and everybody will pay to take their wards to private secondary schools. That is the danger we are talking about.”
But President Akufo-Addo had stated in the Upper East Region on Tuesday, August 13, 2019 that the Free SHS initiative which is catering for some 1.2 million SHS students from September after the programme went full-blown (Form 1 – Form 3) has come to stay.
Mr. Akufo-Addo siaf he will ensure the successful implementation of the policy no matter what the opponents of the government will do.
He said “our opponents are saying we are wasting resources of the country on the Free SHS programme, but our message to them is that we will rather invest the country’s resources on the future of this country than spend on consumption and politicians.
You cannot develop a country without paying attention to the educational sector.”
President Akufo-Addo stated “this is the first time in the history of Ghana that we are having a universal free education in the Senior High level and I am very hopeful that the outcome will be good. By next year, the first batch of the Free SHS will be taking their final examination and I am hopeful that the results will be good to justify the investment.”
But Mr. Mahama who in April was a doomsayer has turned to accept that indeed the policy is here to stay, something he probably might have done earlier if not for want of scoring political points by projecting the policy as unworthy of implementation.
In an apparent response to Mr. Akufo-Addo, former President Mahama wrote on his official Facebook page that ” I am determined to make secondary education a beneficial and qualitative learning experience more than the current miserable conditions our children are having to face, under the Nana Akufo-Addo administration.”
Mr. Mahama added that “Free SHS is here to stay! It is underpinned and guaranteed by the 1992 Constitution of Ghana and it cannot be reversed by any government.”
Mr. Mahama has never shown any firmness as far as his position on the Free SHS policy is concerned.
His position has largely seemed to be tossed around by pronouncements from members of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP).