The flagbearer for the opposition NDC, John Dramani Mahama says contrary to opinions that he will scrap the Free Senior High School policy introduced by the governing NPP when voted into power “free Senior High School education has come to stay”.
Clarifying his stance, the former President said he is not against the policy but rather against the implementation process which he claims has caused parents, students, and teachers great inconvenience.
“Free Senior High School education has come to stay. If anybody tells you that I, John Dramani Mahama, will abolish Free SHS when I come into power tell the person he is a bloody liar,” he said while paying a courtesy call on the Overlord of Dagbon, Ya-Na Abukari II.
The Free SHS, introduced in September 2017, meant that the fees of every child in Ghana, who gained admission to a public Senior High School, will be absorbed by the government.
It also meant free tuition, admission, textbooks, library fees, science centre fees, fees for ICT, examination fees, utility fees, boarding, and meals.
This, the government believes, will remove any cost barrier that prevents students from achieving their educational goals.
The policy, however, has not been without its challenges. The increased rate of admissions overburdened the infrastructure of some schools with students allegedly forced to sleep on mattresses on the floor.
Subsequently, government introduced a double-track system to alleviate the living challenges.
The academic calendar was modified to incorporate a double-track (gold and green) system where students of the same academic year alternated their start date.
The new programme saw students on the gold track in school, while the green track students waited their turn at starting the same academic year during the vacation of the gold track students. This system was widely criticized by many Ghanaians and civil society groups.
However, the former president says his government “would have implemented it better”.
John Mahama explained that the Akufo-Addo government would have had fewer challenges with the policy had they had followed their “plan of continuing with the 200 new Senior Secondary Schools we were building, we won’t have the current situation that we have in our free SHS plan”.