Free SHS policy is here to stay and will be sustained - President Akufo-Addo assures

| Updated Nov 27, 2017 at 4:33am



President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, says the free Secondary High School (SHS) program has come to stay and that there is no turning back with the policy’s implementation.

He has assured that government has already begun moves towards addressing teething challenges identified with implementation of the flagship educational policy meant to provide a relief for many junior high school graduates who could have had their academic progression truncated due poverty.

President Akufo-Addo gave the assurance at the 68th Anniversary and Speech and Prize Giving Day of the Prempeh College in Kumasi on Sunday, November 26, 2017.

According to the President, contrary to the assertions being made by his political opponents about the sustainability of the Free Senior High School policy, the policy is here to stay and will be sustained.

According to President Akufo-Addo, “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.”

The President continued, “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 recognise the importance of the investment we are making in the youth and in the future of our country. The investment will be sustained.”

President Akufo-Addo noted with dismay that “I continue to be puzzled as to the vehemence with which so-called social democrats oppose or attempt to undermine measures designed to address poverty. Their demagoguery and opportunism will always be exposed.”

Touching on the theme of the occasion: “The Role of Stakeholders in Educating the Boy-Child in Contemporary Times, President Akufo-Addo said government has initiated specific policies aimed at enhancing access and quality of formal education for the many Ghanaian children who graduate from Junior High School every year.

Prior to the launch of the Free SHS policy launch, President Akufo-Addo noted that available data indicated that Ghanaian children were falling out of the educational system at every stage in alarming numbers.

He revealed that over the last four years, for example, 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 place.

“This means 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,” he said.

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

Touching on the teething challenges confronting the Free SHS policy, as there would be with any new, bold initiative, 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”.

“We have taken that first step in Ghana, and we shall deal with the challenges. In dealing with them, tenders have already gone out, and, soon, contracts will be awarded for the provision of some 69,500 mono desks, and some 13,100 bunk beds,” he said.

The President continued, “Additionally, tender notices have been issued for the supply of furniture for dining halls, staff rooms of teachers, computer laboratories, and the provision of marker boards for classrooms.”

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

“Already, the policy has led to an increase of over 90,000 children, who have entered senior high school this academic year, who would otherwise have dropped out at this stage,” he said.

Further, under the Secondary Education Improvement Project, the President revealed that Government has secured a $40 million loan from the World Bank for the expansion and upgrading of facilities in 75 Senior High Schools across the country.

Construction works on the existing Community Day Schools are ongoing, he said, adding that “Government will also upgrade 42 Senior High Schools into model school status.”

Prempeh College, the first ever secondary school in the Ashanti region, was built by the Wesleyan Mission, now Methodist Church and their Presbyterian counterparts in 1949 on the request of the then government with the complement of the then Asantehene, Otumfuo Sir Osei Agyemang Prempeh.

It was to provide room for post-basic school children in the entire northern territory of the Gold Coast to further their formal education while also serving as an additional nursery for the university.

It was modeled after the Mfantsipim School in Cape for which reason, its first Headmaster, Reverend S. N. Pearson, was transferred from Mfantsipim to nurture the College.

During the 68-year period, the Prempeh College has made substantial contribution to human resource development of Ghana with its products serving in almost every sphere of national life including the production of

Mr. John Agyekum Kufuor as the second President of Ghana’s fourth Republic.

In a remark, Mr. Kufuor shared nostalgic memories of his hey days at the Prempeh College where he graduated at Sixth Form about 59 years ago.

Going forward, former President Kufuor’s stressed the need for gender balance in formal education as well as the need for the school to place premium on science and technology to meet the changing times of the world.

The Headmaster of the school, Samuel Fordjuor, said even though implementation of the free Secondary education has relieved the management of some of the financial burdens on the management, its has brought in its wake serious pressure on the few and obsolete infrastructure.

Mr. Fordjuor therefore appealed to all the stakeholders to put their shoulders to the wheel to address the problems.