Education Minister, Dr Mathew Opoku Prempeh, has said the National Democratic Congress (NDC) “ridiculed” the idea of a free senior high school policy when the New Patriotic Party (NPP) promised it in the lead-up to the 2016 general elections, but the same critics have now made a U-turn and promised to review it should they win the 7 December 2020 polls.
Presenting a statement on the floor of Parliament on Tuesday, August 11, 2020, Dr Opoku Prempeh said: “Mr. Speaker, we all know that, in 2016, many ridiculed our capacity to implement the programme, citing unavailability of funding, inadequate physical classroom structures and other school facilities to support implementation, among others”.
He said: “Seeing how successful the programme’s implementation has been with such important policies such as the Double-Track Year-Round Calendar, sustainable funding strategies, among others, our opponents are making a U-turn and promising a review of the programme if they win power in the 2020 elections, except they have failed to specifically say what aspect they will review, and to what end and purpose”.
According to him, “it is also instructive to note that under the Progressively Free SHS policy touted by the NDC when it was in government, they left arrears of GH¢30,120,552.00 (thirty million, one hundred and twenty thousand, five hundred and fifty-two Ghana cedis) in respect of the 2015/16 academic year when the programme started with day students only”.
“That has since been paid by the Akufo-Addo-led government”, he reported to Parliament, adding: “Nothing at all was paid by the NDC in respect of the 120,000 boarding students to be catered for under the high-sounding Progressively Free programme in the 2016/17 academic year”.
Just recently, Mr Mahama said he had no intentions whatsoever of abolishing the free senior high school policy instituted by President Akufo-Addo.
Speaking at the Dagbon Overlord’s palace during a courtesy call on the Ya Na as part of his campaign tours of the Northern Region, the flag bearer of the NDC, said: “Free Senior High School education has come to stay”.
“If anybody tells you that I, John Dramani Mahama, son of E.A Mahama, will abolish Free SHS when I come, tell the person he is a bloody liar”, he insisted.
According to him, “What I am against is the poor implementation of the free SHS, which is creating great inconvenience for the parents, for the students and for the teachers and the point I have made is that we can make it better.”
“If this government had followed our plan of continuing with the 200 new Senior High Schools that we were building, we will not have the current situation that we have in our free SHS plan”, he said.