The Free Senior High School (Free SHS) policy initiated by the Akufo-Addo government is dazing the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) as election 2020 gets close.
Sensing that the Free SHS policy has gained roots in the country and is going to be a major campaign issue in 2020 that could potentially undo them, the NDC is now turning around to hail it after doing its’ best possible to wreck the successful implementation of the policy.
Their leader and flag bearer, John Dramani Mahama, after realizing his continuous opposition to the policy could jeopardize his chances of returning as president, reiterated President Akufo-Addo’s statement that “the Free SHS programme is here to stay.”
The sudden NDC U-turn on the critical social intervention policy, which ensures that basic education ends at the SHS level, has sparked heated debate in the country and many are describing the NDC members who are now hailing it as a confused political grouping.
Mr. Mahama, during the official opening of the Ghana National Union of Technical Students (GNUTS) 27th Annual Residential Delegates Congress in Kumasi on Wednesday, said “the Free SHS programme is here to stay; indeed, it is a policy that is guaranteed by the 1992 Constitution of our country so nobody or government can reverse it.”
Mr. Mahama after praising the policy then turned around to lambast the NPP administration for allowing several challenges to confront the Free SHS programme.
“In my first three months in political office in 2021, I will call a major stakeholders’ meeting, where parents, guardians and teachers, among others, would assemble to give solutions to how to properly manage the Free SHS policy,” he said confidently.
As if that is not the objective of the policy, Mr. Mahama said it is the core duty of every government to make the Free SHS programme “qualitative and enjoyable for the students, who are the beneficiaries, and my administration will ensure just that.”
After being exposed, the NDC is now claiming that it is rather the Double Track System, introduced as a temporary measure to deal with high enrollment as a result of the Free SHS policy, which it intends to scrap if it wins the 2020 elections.
The party’s General Secretary, Johnson Asiedu Nketia, said yesterday that “it’s funny how they’ve twisted these positions and now claiming we want to abolish the Free SHS policy. All the tapes that defended the Double Track System when they introduced it are available. They made it clear that it was one of the best systems that would improve education in the country, citing different countries that had practised such model and succeeded with it.
“The government only changed its stance and made a U-turn on the policy, claiming it was an interim measure after the UG research that indicated that the worst policy that has been introduced in the country was that of the Double Track System. We are begging them; they should try and preserve the little credibility they have; the lies they are peddling won’t help them.”
NDC smear campaign against Free SHS
-Mahama in October 2012, then President after the mysterious sudden death of President Mills, said “Free SHS is bogus.”
-Mahama, on November 23, 2012, told the people of Okere that “Free SHS will collapse SHS education system.”
-Mahama, on October 1, 2018, reiterated his aversion to Free SHS saying that it would undergo a review and hinted of the possibility of the policy being scrapped.
-Mahama, on February 24, 2018, said that Free SHS’s implementation was rushed and it is constricting government’s budget and, therefore, needs to have a review.
-Mahama at their Tarkwa unity walk had this to say, “It is unwise to implement Free SHS policy at all costs.”
-Mahama, in his Central Regional tour on September 28, 2018, had this to say, “I would not have done Free SHS now.”
-Mahama, on November 25, 2017, said, “Lalasulala Free SHS will fail.”
-Mahama on his presidential primaries tour said to Akufo-Addo”Free SHS is not working.”
-The then Minister of Education, Lee Ocran, on 10th September, 2012, said”Free SHS can only be possible in 2032, in 20 years’ time.”
-Johnson Asiedu Nketia, on October 1, 2018, described Free SHS as shambolic and that it would have to be scrapped.
-NDC MP for Adaklu, Kwame Agbodza, on June 19, 2018, said, “Over concentration on Free SHS is stifling funds meant for flood prevention.”
-Elder Ofosu-Ampofo on 18th December, 2018, said, “Double track system causing teenage pregnancies.”
-Alban Bagbin, on 26th July 2018, said, “Free SHS is not sustainable.”
-Adam Mutawakilu, NDC MP for Damango, said “Blame the mysterious deaths at KUMACA to overcrowding as a result of Free SHS.”
-Felix Kwakye Ofosu, on May 14, 2018, had this warning for the government: “You can’t use oil money to fund Free SHS.”
-Fifi Kwetey, ahead of the 2012 Election, said, “Akufo-Addo’s Free SHS is All lie be lie!”
-Mahama at UCC in 2016 said this: “The Free Senior High School by the NPP is a political gimmick.”
-Mahama Ayariga, on September 26, 2016, said “Choose Mahama’s education policy, it is better than Akufo-Addo’s Free SHS.”
-Hajia Joyce Zeinabu, then National Women Organizer of the NDC in 2016, November 20, had this to say, “Free SHS will breed teenage pregnancies.”
-Joshua Akamba, (NDC National Organizer) to Tempane SHS students: “Reject Akufo-Addo for implementing such a shambolic education system.”