The New Patriotic Party (NPP) has raised red flags over the proposed free senior high school education as mentioned by the president in his 2014 State of the Nation Address on Tuesday.
National chairman, Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, explained that the party’s reservation is founded in what has been observed as persistent failure of the ruling government to successfully implement any meaningful policy.
This, he claimed, is also compounded by the poor record of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in maintaining policies they inherited from the NPP.
The NPP in the 2012 elections pitched its campaign on free SHS, which was pooh-poohed by the NDC as a whimsical idea.
But President Mahama has announced the abolishing of fees in Day Senior High Schools by 2015/1016 academic year.
The President said the Ministry of Education had “prepared a roadmap for the progressive introduction of free secondary high education in Ghana as required by constitution,” adding that it would cost 71 million cedis annually to implement the policy.
The NPP, however, is accusing the government of stealing its idea.
Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey on Joy FM’s Top Story with Evans Mensah enumerated a number of policies thought out or implemented by the NPP under President Kufuor, claiming attempts by the NDC to either implement or continue these projects have been feebly executed.
He mentioned an accelerated plan of economic recovery in the northern part of the country, which he said the NDC rebranded as Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) as well as the National Health Insurance Scheme. All these have “sadly and tragically” been implemented under this administration, he asserted.
Additionally, he stressed that the free SHS, which was the catchphrase of the NPP in 2008, and which was restructured for 2012 elections, was again “rubbished” by then candidate Mahama and his functionaries, “only to turn round to say that he has suddenly seen the light and trying to implement it”.
Mr. Obetsebi-Lamptey, however, expressed the fear that the NDC not knowing the full philosophy informing the proposed free SHS, would likely “do it badly and even mess up our education even more”.
In his view, the free SHS by the government is being hinged on only building without taking into account the teacher and other educational materials.
He, therefore, cautioned Ghanaians to be careful of politicians and their promises especially those without good records to show.
But Deputy Minister of Education, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa maintained that the President has been consistent with his stance on the free SHS.
The President, he said, prioritized building the educational foundation, which he said has been done before “building the super structures”.
He remarked, “that is what he (Mahama) has done one year in office. He has rehabilitated the secondary schools, he has rehabilitated science resource centres…we have also put out a definite date that on 3rd March, he will cut the sod for the commencement of the construction of the new senior high schools.”
By August 2015, the first 50 schools would be ready, Mr. Ablakwa announced further disclosing that the free SHS policy would be funded by the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund).
The Deputy Minister also rejected claims by the NPP that the free SHS was a stolen policy.
He referred Mr. Obetsebi-Lamptey to Article 25 (1b) of the 1992 Constitution, which stipulates “secondary education in its different forms, including technical and vocational education, shall be made generally available and accessible to all by every appropriate means, and in particular, by the progressive introduction of free education”.