President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has indicated strongly that Ghanaians will not allow a review of the Free Senior High School Policy as hinted by opponents of the policy, ABC News can report.
The President argued that but for the introduction of the Free SHS programme, one million children would have dropped out of school at the level of Junior High School, a situation he described as unacceptable.
Speaking at the 70th anniversary celebration of Prempeh College, in Kumasi, in the Ashanti Region, President Akufo-Addo made a strong conviction that the Free SHS policy has come to stay, adding that intentions by its opponents to cancel the exercise in future will not materialise.
“Free SHS has come to stay, and the people of Ghana will never allow the dreamers, who have still not woken up from the slumber of their defeat in 2016, to come and cancel it under the guise of a so-called ‘review’”.
Addressing the gathering, President Akufo-Addo noted that, as a result of the Free SHS policy introduced in September 2017, some 1.2 million children are currently enrolled in Senior High Schools in Ghana, the highest such enrollment in our history.
“This means that, over the last three years, some four hundred thousand (400,000) more students, as compared to 2016, have had the opportunity gaining access into our senior high schools. We intend to make sure that no child is denied the opportunity of senior high school education by reason of poverty,” the President added.
The President’s remarks follow some comments made by the Flagbearer of the Opposition National democratic Congress, John Dramani Mahama suggesting that he will review the Free SHS Policy within his first 90-days in office if elected in the 2020 general elections.
He noted that he will engage relevant stakeholders to ensure that the policy is bettered.
“The NDC shall ensure that all issues raised which are feasible and doable will be factored into the NDC manifesto,” the Former President said when he met with the leaders of the Ghana National Council for Private Schools (GNACOPS) in October this year.
The Former President’s comments however, provoked a furious backlash from the ruling New Patriotic Party and a section of the public over his criticisms against the education policy.
Reacting same, President Akufo-Addo said government was committed to addressing the inherent challenges that have characterized the programme.
He indicated that Government, this year, commenced the construction of 962 structures, comprising classrooms, dining halls, assembly halls, sanitary facilities, and dormitories, in senior high schools across the country.
“We are also providing a total of one thousand, one hundred and ninety (1,190) vehicles, made up of three hundred and fifty (350) buses and eight hundred and forty (840) pickups to schools in various areas in the country,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo noted that his Government is introducing reforms to teacher education and training because the teacher is at the centre of any education reform.
“We have also introduced the teacher licensure regime aimed at professionalising teaching, and bringing it in line with international best practices. In September this year, we rolled out a new curriculum for kindergarten and primary schools, whilst those of the junior high school and senior high school curricula are under active study,” he added.
Other reforms, he said, include an overhaul of the school inspection and accountability system, as well as technical and vocational education and training regime, with Government also assisting in trying to formulate a policy that will enable teachers to buy their own homes, and guarantee their security in their retirement.