Source: The Finder - The announcement that government will by the last quarter of the 2015 academic year begin the implementation of free senior high school (SHS) education across the country has rattled feathers among members of the opposition New Patriotic Party, who have laid claim to the idea.
A free SHS policy was a central theme in the campaign message of the NPP flagbearer, Nana Addo, in the 2012 elections, who promised to make senior high school education completely free if voted into power.

This policy was vehemently criticised by the NDC and some other institutions as not feasible at the time.

The New Patriotic Party, however, says the "rush" by the NDC government to implement the policy is disingenuous of a party that criticised the idea so much.

According to the Communications Director of the party, Nana Akomea, the move by the NDC government is directly in reaction to what he termed as a solid campaign message of Nana Addo.

"This is just a reaction to what Nana has said," he told The Finder.

Deputy Minister of Education, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, however, disagrees with this assertion.

According to him, free education is a constitutional provision enshrined in the 1992 Constitution and, therefore, cannot be credited to Nana Addo.

"If there is any credit, it will rather be given to the 1992 Constitution," he argued.

Nana Akomea also argued that it has become very characteristic of the NDC to critic every policy proposal of the NPP only to turn around to implement it.

He made reference to President John Mahama's criticism of a free SHS policy in the run-up to the 2012 general election, suggesting that it was impossible to make SHS free when basic school education is not free.

He also made reference to suggestions by some members of the NDC who argued at the time that attempts at a free SHS in other African countries had failed woefully.

"The NDC spent huge sums of money on advertisement to drive home a point that anything free was not good, using the voices of Pastor Mensah Otabil and many others," Nana Akomea noted.

In defence, Okudzeto Ablakwa says the policy being rolled out by the government is different from what the NPP's Nana Addo proposed.

"Our programme is different from theirs; ours is progressive," he maintained.

President John Dramani Mahama on Thursday inaugurated the first completed community day senior high secondary school at Otuam in the Central Region, announcing that the government has released an amount of GH?12.1 million to kick start the academic year.

The 24-classroom block, with laboratories and offices, has been named after the late President John Evans Atta Mills.

The project is part of the 200 senior high schools to be built in underserved communities across the country.

According to the President, out of the 200 new community schools to be built, 123 were currently being worked on, and called on the Ministry of Education to facilitate the completion of the rest of the schools on schedule.

Prof Naana Agyeman, Minister of Education, said the community day SHS seeks to expand capacity of secondary education to enrol the increasing number of students from the basic schools, adding that it would help make secondary education physically accessible, especially in underserved communities.

She indicated that under the project, the government would increase the number of public SHS from 854 to 1,054 when all the 200 schools are completed, representing 23% increase in the number of public secondary schools, as well as increase in the capacity of secondary education by 240,000 seats.
 


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