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FREE SHS IS FOR GHANA’S FUTURE - President Nana Akufo-Addo

General News

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, yesterday, launched the free Senior High School policy with a call on Ghanaians to fully support it.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, yesterday, launched the free Senior High School policy with a call on Ghanaians to fully support it.

 

According to the President, the policy was about Ghana and how “best to build a progressive and prosperous nation for this and future generations.”

“The policy is not about the NPP or the NDC. The beneficiaries will not only be those belonging to NPP members or sympathizers. They will be Ghanaians from all walks of life and from all political persuasions,” he said at the West Africa Secondary School yesterday.

The President said the policy would be funded from proceeds of the country’s natural resources.

“I have chosen to invest in the future of our youth and of our country. We have decided to use the proceeds from our natural resources to help educate the population to drive our economic transformation. Instead of the revenues from our mineral and oil resources ending up in the hands of a few people, the most equitable and progressive way of using these revenues is to educate and empower our population to strengthen our nation,” he said.

This, he added, would mean achieving United Nations Sustainable Development Goal number four, “which calls for inclusive and equitable education, and the promotion of lifelong opportunities for all. As co-Chair of the Advocacy Group of Eminent Persons of the SDGs, their implementation is a matter of the highest public priority for me.”

President Nana Akufo-Addo continued, “Today, we throw open the doors of opportunity and hope to our young people. From this day on, we lift the financial burden off our parents, and the heart-rending anxiety that accompanies the beginning of every school term. We have a sacred duty to our children and the generations beyond in ensuring that, irrespective of their circumstances, their right to an education is preserved. That is why government has decided to absorb all senior high school fees that have been agreed between the Ghana Education Service Council and the Conference of Heads of Assisted Secondary Schools.”

To ensure that no child is denied access to secondary education, the President said his government, through the free SHS policy, was removing one of the biggest hindrances that stand in the way of parents, which is cost.

“The cost of providing free secondary school education will be cheaper than the cost of the alternative of an uneducated and unskilled workforce that has the capacity to retard our development. Leadership is about choices,” he said.

He indicated that the government was committed to ensuring that quality education is not compromised in the programme.

“A key component of the policy must be the provision of quality education. Government is collaborating with various partners to implement major programmes and interventions such as the Secondary Education Improvement Project, the expansion of physical infrastructure, and free supply of core subject text books to students,” the President said.

With technical and vocational skills crucial to the NPP’s industrialization agenda, and the commitment to making it attractive to the youth, the President said the policy would also cover pupils who gain admission to technical, vocational and agricultural institutions.

“Currently, technical and vocational education delivery in Ghana is fragmented under 18 different Ministries, each with different enabling Acts and mandates. This has affected system governance, development and coordination for efficiency, quality and relevance of training provision. To confront the challenges, work has commenced to align all public TVET institutions under the Ministry of Education to provide effective policy direction and co-ordination in skills development,” he said.

The President continued that government had reserved 30% of places in the top 82 senior high schools to students from basic public schools, adding that these top schools were almost populated by students from junior high private schools with good performance at the BECE, relative to the basic public schools.

“Under the Free SHS policy, we will ensure that students from basic public schools have equal opportunity to enroll in any of the top senior high schools in the country. We believe this is crucial in ensuring that we do not inadvertently encourage a permanent class divide, where a child from a background, whose parents are unable to afford junior high private school education, is pre-destined to be excluded from the top senior high schools in the country. That is unconscionable, and potentially dangerous for social cohesion,” he mentioned.

He also acknowledged that with all human endeavours, there were bound to be challenges in the implementation of the policy despite all the efforts put into it.

“We may falter, but, by the grace of Almighty God, we shall not fall, for we will be ready, in all humility, to accept inputs and criticisms aimed at improving the policy,” President Nana Akufo-Addo said.