General News of Thursday, 4 October 2018
Former President John Dramani Mahama appears to be ‘dazed’ by the impact of the free Senior High School (SHS), which is the flagship policy of the Akufo-Addo government.
He has been blowing ‘hot and cold’ since the Free SHS policy commenced last year, having doubted its successful implementation.
The former president’s resolve to ‘review’ the whole programme through what he termed ‘stakeholders consultation’ sparked heated debate after his critics said he was out to scrap the special initiative aimed at giving access to every child to further his or her education for future development.
The policy has assisted over 270,000 students who could have dropped out after JHS to continue their secondary eduaction.
President Akufo-Addo has already said that the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) cannot stop the successful implementation of the policy.
“I am alarmed by this concept of the review. This is because anytime our political opponents try anything of this sort; it leads the policy in question into a coma. We all remember the NHIS one-term premium payment review pledge. Not only did the review not materialise, but they also succeeded in degrading the policy,” the president lamented, adding “I honestly suspect reviewing the Free SHS policy means collapsing it. But, I doubt the Ghanaian people will allow this brilliant policy to be collapsed by anyone.”
Mr. Mahama’s campaign spokesperson, James Agyenim Boateng, issued a statement denying flatly that his boss would collapse Free SHS policy if he gets a second chance.
“The John Mahama 2020 Campaign Team has become aware of a deliberate campaign of disinformation led by President Nana Akufo-Addo following comments by former President John Dramani Mahama that he will convene a stakeholders’ forum to address the challenges facing the implementation of the Free Senior High School programme. I believe that if Ghanaians come together, we can come out with a workable timetable and schedule for implementing Free SHS,” he said.
“It is important to point out that at no point during former President Mahama’s address to the delegates did he mention that he would collapse the Free SHS programme. That President Akufo-Addo could only come to that conclusion is regrettable, to say the least. It’s important to point out that ‘collapse’ is not a synonym for ‘review,’ and it is therefore mind-boggling that President Akufo-Addo could come to that conclusion,” the statement added.
Mr. Mahama has not hidden his hatred for the entire Free SHS policy, and when he was in office he spent huge amounts of money to discredit then opposition leader Nana Akufo-Addo for proposing the policy.
His contradictory statements regarding the Free SHS has continuously been played against him.
Last November during an NDC Unity Walk in Tarkwa in the Western Region, Mr. Mahama said it was not ‘by force’ for President Akufo-Addo to implement the Free SHS policy.
“Why should the government introduce free education now when the Constitution says it should be done progressively? In fact, it’s not by force to introduce Free SHS now,” he quizzed.
The NDC has always maintained that it will take the next 20 years for Free SHS policy to be implemented.
After realizing the political implications of his statement in Tarkwa, Mr. Mahama posted on Facebook that “there are no ‘naysayers’ when it comes to free SHS. After all it was recognized and enshrined in our constitution by the ordinary people of this nation who gathered at the Consultative Assembly and drew up the 1992 Constitution.”
Even the double-track system, which has been introduced as a result of the large number of students in SHSs through the Free SHS policy, has not been spared by Mr. Mahama.
He said the policy, which many educationists have described as game-changer in the educational sector, does not make sense.
He, therefore, vowed to scrap the entire double-track system when the NDC comes back to power in 2020.
Free SHS For 500,000
Information Minister-designate, Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah, took a swipe at Mr. Mahama for repeatedly questioning the ‘sense’ in the double-track system under the Free SHS policy.
He said the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) is not overwhelmed by the comments of the former President on the policy due to his constant opposition even during the campaign periods in the build up to the 2016 general elections.
“Others may be shocked that a former president who in his days was noted for calling on Ghanaians to be optimistic and not cynical about national programmes, will be the one to make such a comment to undermine a national programme. The Akufo-Addo government is not the least surprised. Mr. Mahama has never been in support of the Free SHS programme. You recall that he campaigned heavily against it even as a sitting president,” he added.