President John Dramani Mahama has described as whimsical, the promise by the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) to make senior high school education free.
Speaking at the first in the series of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) organised presidential debates in Tamale on Tuesday, President Mahama said since the constitution called for Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE), it was imperative that the nation tackled that before thinking of SHS. Likening education to constructing a building, he said “you can’t have a super structure roofing when your foundation is not strong”.
He said “it is important that all costs are eliminated at the basic level of education”.
He said though he supported free SHS education, there was the problem of accessibility which needed to be fixed.
“We need to re-target the GETFund to close the gap between the primary and secondary schools and increase subventions to the secondary level to make it progressively free”.
Nana Akufo-Addo, Flagbearer of the NPP in a quick rebuttal said Ghanaians could wait no longer to enjoy free SHS.
He said if free SHS was not implemented come the next academic year, over 600,000 school children would be thrown into the world without the requisite skill to work.
He said because free SHS was his priority, he was not going to channel the nation’s resources to paying “questionable” judgment debts but rather use them to benefit of all.
“Using oil revenue to fund education is one way of ensuring equity in the sharing of our national resources”, he added.
Below is a GhanaReporters overview of the campaign on Education so far:
The Free SHS Policy, aggressively and relentlessly being espoused by the NPP’s Nana Akufo-,Addo, that is the talk of town. At least 60% of all political discussions analyses of the December Elections has been on Free SHS. The policy, which when implemented will make Senior High Schools free in the country, has been positively received by hundreds of thousands of Ghanaians, a situation which is threatening to derail the NDC’s campaign.
Accordingly, the NDC led by President Mahama himself, has described the policy as populist, and a fraud, which will do more harm than good to secondary education.
While the NPP argues that instituting free SHS is necessary now in order to ensure that every child, no matter their economic background, has access to senior secondary education, the NDC is of the opinion that making secondary education free now will lead to a decline in education standards at that level.
The NDC has also stated that in line with the 1992 constitution, free education must be fully implemented at the basic level before Free SHS is considered, but the NPP has insisted that it must be implemented now in order to ensure that the lack of money does not hinder any Ghanaian child from going to secondary schools.