- "Free Senior High School is part of the transformational agenda," says Dr Bawumia
The free senior high school (SHS) programme is the biggest achievement of the Akufo-Addo administration, Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has said.
“There are many… many achievements. But, the greatest one is the free senior high school programme,” Bawumia told Nana Yaa Mensah on the Sunday Night Show on Asaase Radio 99.5 FM on Sunday, 29 November 2020.
The Akufo-Addo administration launched the pro-poor education programme in 2017, fulfilling a campaign promise he made to Ghanaians in the run-up to the 2012 and 2016 elections.
The policy commenced in September 2017, across the country with about 400,000 students.
“If you look at what the nation needs, the nation needs human capital to develop and we were losing so many people, so many kids were dropping out of the system because their parents could not afford fees to take them to school and that was a price Ghana will be paying later on,” the vice president said.
He added: “…You would see that you would be paying that price for these kids dropping out as they may get into all sorts of defiant behaviours or they are not going to be able to reach their potential and get jobs and all of that.
“So, we thought that this was a major issue facing the country and the president had that vision, which he articulated in the 2016 manifesto, having gone round the country and said we need to bring free Senior High School education so that we will get a lot of people in school.”
According to Bawumia, the implementation of the policy has led to a 70% increase in enrolment in the SHS “which is remarkable, because all these kids would most likely have been at home.”
Meanwhile, President Akufo-Addo expressed disbelief over claims being made by the presidential candidate of the National Democratic Congress, John Dramani Mahama, that he began the free Senior High School programme.
On Tuesday, 24 November 2020, whilst on a tour of some constituencies in the Upper East Region, Mahama stated that “we started the programme (Free SHS) and the NPP came and continued it.”
But speaking to a gathering at Odorkor on Wednesday, 25 November 2020, Akufo-Addo described the statement made by Mahama as “something which shocked me”.
According to Akufo-Addo, when he promised, in the run-up to the 2008, 2012 and 2016 campaigns, “they (John Mahama and the NDC) said that I was deceiving Ghanaians, and that it was a vote-buying gimmick and that for it (Free SHS) to be possible, it would take about 20 years”.
He continued, “Not long ago, he said that if he had GHC2 billion, he wouldn’t use it to pay school fees, but rather he would use it on something profitable. Today, he says that he (Mahama) introduced Free S.H.S. Are we going to allow the former president to come back to power through lies and deception?”
The president added that the “lies” from the NDC presidential candidate “are borne out of one thing, and that is his campaign is failing to catch up with the electorate. He has seen that his campaign is collapsing in confusion, fabrications and now outright lies.”
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