Countries that have made rapid progress put Education first – Akufo-Addo replies Otumfuor
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, says his Government is confronting the inherent challenges that have been associated with the implementation of the Free Senior High School Policy.
With some 1.2 million children currently enrolled in Senior High Schools, the highest such enrolment in the country’s history, President Akufo-Addo stated that sufficient provision has been made in the 2020 budget for the continued construction of facilities
Speaking at the 70th anniversary celebration of Prempeh College in Kumasi, on Saturday, 30th November, 2019, the President indicated that Government, this year, commenced the construction of 962 structures, comprising classrooms, dining halls, assembly halls, sanitary facilities, and dormitories, in senior high schools across the country.
“We are also providing a total of one thousand, one hundred and ninety (1,190) vehicles, made up of three hundred and fifty (350) buses and eight hundred and forty (840) pickups to schools in various areas in the country,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo assured the Ghanaian people of his Government’s determination to address address head-on the problems that arise from the implementation of the policy.
Explaining the rationale for the implementation of the Free SHS policy, the President stated that he came into office at a time when, between 2013 and 2016, there was the unfortunate situation in Ghana where, on the average, 100,000 children, every year, who passed the B.E.C.E., could not take up their places in Senior High Schools, because they could not afford the fees, even though they had the qualifications.
“If this situation had persisted for a decade, one million children would have dropped out of school at the level of Junior High School, an unacceptable outcome for any nation in the 21st century,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo continued, “It would have been too dangerous for Ghana’s stability, as we would have been building a future of hopelessness for our youth. Such a situation was intolerable, and my party and I were determined to end it. That is why the Free Senior High School policy was introduced.”
The President noted that the countries that have made rapid progress around the world put education at the heart of their development.
He recounted how, in the late 19th century, the United States of America began to transition to publicly funded high school education, describing it as a daunting prospect at the time.
The experiment for paying for the education of so many children, for such an extended period of time out of limited public resources, transferring a potential workforce away from immediate productivity for an investment in schooling, paid off.
“America set herself up for 20th century success, creating a labour force fit for rapid economic development, which has inspired the emergence of the most powerful economy so far known to human history,” President Akufo-Addo added.
His Government, he stressed, is determined to follow suit, and this has resulted in some 1.2 million children currently enrolled in Senior High Schools in Ghana, the highest such enrolment in our history.
“This means that, over the last three years, some four hundred thousand (400,000) more students, as compared to 2016, have had the opportunity gaining access into our senior high schools. We intend to make sure that no child is denied the opportunity of senior high school education by reason of poverty,” the President added.
Some have said that the President’s comments are a direct response to the Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II who has persistently advised the Akufo-Addo government to focus on transforming the lives of Ghanaians by building economy.
It would be recalled that at a recent lecture in Accra, the revered chief emphasized that in the 2020 elections, Ghanaians would judge the Akufo-Addo administration by the performance of the economy and not the implementation of Free SHS policy.