President John Mahama has shot down the signature policy proposal of the opposition New Patriotic Party – free Senior High School.
He said the clarion call must not be for a free education as the New Patriotic Party flagbearer Nana Akufo-Addo had been trumpeting but rather a practical and pragmatic approach in solving the challenges in the educational sector.
President John Mahama said this when he delivered his policy statement to the nation with three months to the end of his tenure.
The NPP together with the Progressive Peoples Party have promised a free and compulsory SHS if elected into office.
At his evening encounter with the Institute of Economic Affairs, the NPP flagbearer Nana Akufo-Addo said the additional cost of implementing a free SHS is 78 million cedis with the amount expected to rise progressively.
He said government’s commitment to free education is non-negotiable and the choice of his government, if elected, will be to invest in education.
Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom, flagbearer of the PPP has also not minced words about his commitment to free education and has been eloquent in emphasizing the compulsory element to his free education policy.
But President John Mahama said free education is not the way to go, at least for now.
Whilst admitting that Ghanaians have a right to free education, he said the “modalities of expressing this shared national vision of free education must first ensure that we improve efficiencies and grant access to those who are in need to move from basic to secondary and to tertiary and improving standards at the basic level and the secondary and tertiary level.”
“Our argument should not be about free secondary education,” he stated adding, the framers of the constitution were well aware of the cost constraints in implementing a free education, a reason why they called for a progressively free education to the SHS and tertiary levels.
“What our discussion should be is what is most practical and pragmatic at this stage of our national development and with the resources available to us.”
He said he had directed the ministries of Finance and Education to quickly review all outstanding payments to educational institutions and to make payment to them as quickly as possible.
Play the attached audio for excerpts of President John Mahama’s address