Abdul Malik Kweku Baako, the Editor-in-chief of the New Crusading Guide newspaper says John Dramani Mahama and the NDC are facing a “baggage of contradictions, incoherence, confusion of thought and lack of clarity” regarding the introduction of the free Senior High School (FSHS).
The NDC flagbearer at a three-day campaign tour of the Upper East Region stated that his government started the free SHS programme in 2015.
Mahama told the people of Tuobong in the Tempane District: “We started the programme and the NPP came and continued it. Unfortunately, the implementation has been very poor, and so it ended us in the double track. I assure you, my countrymen, that within one year, I will cancel the double track.”
He continued: “All the Community Day Schools we were building, 200 of them, we are going to finish them so that all the children can get schools to attend. With the Community Day Schools we are building, we are going to add dormitory blocks for girls and boys so that those who don’t come from the community where the school is sited, if they choose that school and they are posted there, they will be able to get a decent place to live and learn.”
But Kweku Baako Jnr, speaking on Peace FM’s Kokrokoo morning show on Wednesday, said when the NPP first started talking about the free SHS policy in 2008, the NDC and its allies said the policy was not actually possible and it was coming from a desperate Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
He said the NDC even used a sermon of Pastor Mensa Otabil in which he was telling his congregation that there was nothing quality in free things, just to discredit the NPP’s policy.
Baako indicated that the NDC and Mahama’s attempts at supporting their argument with some publications that UNESCO even lauded Ghana for the introduction of the free SHS policy is false.
He stated that the headline of that publication and the content of the story are two different things altogether.
Baako explained that at the time, John Dramani Mahama, then a sitting President, had told UNESCO that he was on the verge of introducing free SHS in Ghana.
Kweku Baako Jnr quoted verbatim from Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO at the time, thus: “I want to take this opportunity to commend you for increasing public expenditure on education for the past four years. This has brought a significant increase in pre-primary and primary enrolments. This has characterised progress towards gender equality in education.”
This, Baako explained, “was not directly focused on the promise of a progressively free education”, which the NDC introduced in 2015 in the Eastern Region when 400K day students had their school fees fully paid by the Mahama administration.
“As far as I am concerned, if I am analysing the content of the story, the headline does not fit the body of the story,” he added. “There is a distinction between what John Mahama did… In 2017, Akufo-Addo after accessing all the financial options, difficulties and challenges decided to roll it out, both day students and borders were included, unlike the Mahama option which began with day students, [he] promised to add borders which he could not…”