The Free Senior High School (Free SHS) Policy has come to stay and its sustainability is unquestionable, the President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has declared.


Speaking at the 68th anniversary of Prempeh College in Kumasi, Saturday, President Akufo-Addo said contrary to assertions and the cynicism of his political opponents about the sustainability of the Free SHS Policy, the Policy was here to stay, asserting that “The politically motivated propagandists and naysayers, who, in the last few years, said that Free SHS was not possible and could happen only after 20 years, are now singing a new tune. They now claim Free SHS is not sustainable and will crash in 5 years.”


“Let me burst their bubble again. Free SHS is here to stay, because leadership is about choices, and I have no doubt that the overwhelming majority of Ghanaians support the choice that I have made. They recognize the importance of the investment we are making in the youth and in the future of our country. The investment will be sustained,” he asserted.


The President said he was continuously puzzled by the vehemence with which so-called social democrats oppose or attempt to undermine measures designed to address poverty and was categorical that their demagoguery and opportunism would be exposed.


He said prior to the launch of the Free SHS Policy, available data indicated that Ghanaian children were falling out of the educational system at every stage in alarming numbers and that over the last four years, an average of 100,000 BECE graduates, who were placed in the country’s public senior high schools each year, did not take up their places.


This, President Akufo-Addo said, meant that “In the next decade, at least one million of our young men and women, without any employable skills, would have had their education terminated at Junior High School. It would have been too dangerous for Ghana’s stability, as we would have been building a future of hopelessness for our youth.”


“Such a situation,” the President said, “was totally unacceptable and intolerable, and I am determined to end it.”


Free SHS challenges


President Akufo-Addo said he was inspired by the famous Chinese adage which says: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step,” adding that challenges were normally associated with the introduction of any new and ambitious initiative.  “We have taken that first step in Ghana and we shall deal with the challenges,” he said.


He disclosed that tenders had already gone out and that, soon, contracts would be awarded for the provision of some 69,500 mono desks and some 13,100 bunk beds.


Additionally, he indicated, tender notices had been issued for the supply of furniture for dining halls, staff rooms of teachers, computer laboratories and the provision of marker boards for classrooms.


Furthermore, the President said, government had also secured a US $40 million World Bank loan facility under the Secondary Education Improvement Project, for the expansion and upgrading of facilities in 75 SHSs across the country while construction works on the existing Community Day Schools were ongoing.


He disclosed that Government would also upgrade 42 SHSs into model school status.


President Akufo-Addo gave the assurance that the successful implementation of the Free SHS programme would ensure that all of Ghana’s children would be educated to, at least, secondary level and money, or the lack of it, would no longer mean a denial of education.


Already, he said, the policy had led to an increase of over 90,000 children, who had entered SHS this academic year, who would, otherwise, have dropped out at this stage.


Source: ISD (Rex Mainoo Yeboah)