By Kwabia Owusu Mensah
Kumasi Dec. 04, GNA – The Government will continue to make substantial investments in the Free Senior High School programme despite the economic crisis, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has assured.
In furtherance of this, it has in the 2023 Budget Statement and Economic Policy, proposed an investment of GHS 2.96 billion to support the programme.
This represents 28 percent increase of the GHS 2.3 billion voted for the programme in 2022.
Addressing a durbar to climax the 70th Anniversary Celebration of the Opoku Ware Senior High School in Kumasi, President Akufo-Addo, explained that the continuous impressive performance of candidates under the Free SHS programme at the West African Secondary School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) justified the huge investment.
The year-long anniversary was marked under the theme: “Seven Decades of Leadership through Self – Discipline”.
President Akufo-Addo, citing the 2022 WASSCE results, pointed out that there could no longer be any controversy on the performance of students of the free SHS programme.
In the recently released results, he said, 60.39 per cent of the candidates recorded A1- C6 in English Language, as against the 51.6 per cent recorded in 2016.
Also, 62.5 per cent scored A1- C6 in Integrated Science as against 48.35 per cent in 2016.
In Mathematics, 61.39 per cent recorded A1-C6 as against the 33.12 percent in 2016, while 71.5 per cent recorded A1- C6 in Social Science as against the 54.5 per cent in 2016.
President Akufo-Addo said the pass rate under the Free SHS programme had seen systematic improvement over the previous era.
Ghanaians, he said, had a collective responsibility to help the youth to acquire quality education and practical skills to sustain their future.
This could be done by investing in education, he said, adding that, without an educated populace Ghana could not transition from a developing country to a developed one.
Thus providing equal access to education for all was the surest way to achieve the Ghana Beyond Aid and a prosperous nation.
The Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, commended the Government and all key stakeholders for their continuous support to the school.
He said quality education was key to the transformation of the country and called on the teachers to continue to work hard to improve learning outcomes.
The Reverend Father Stephen Owusu Sekyere, headmaster of the School, said the population of students had increased from 60 students in 1952 to 3,965, with 375 staff members.
For seven decades, it has provided holistic Catholic education to a number of people who continue to contribute significantly to the development of Ghana.
He commended the alumni for their continuous support to sustain the School as one of the best in the country.
Rev Fr Owusu Sekyere also commended the Government for providing additional infrastructure to help expand the School.
He, however, urged the Government to help complete the assembly hall and other projects, which were at the standstill.
The public Catholic School for boys offers courses in Business, Visual Arts, General Arts and General. Science.
It was established by the Gold Coast Government at the request of Catholic Church in the Ashanti Region to save their students from travelling to the Saint Augustine’s College in Cape Coast.
Originally called the Yaa Asantewaa College, the name was changed to Opoku Ware Secondary School that same year on February 22, 1952.
The first headmaster, Rev. Peter Philip Burgess, initiated a numbering system, which is still in use for identifying the students.
It has chalked many academic feats over the years as one of the top schools in the country.
In 2018, Opoku Ware School won the Global Innovative Award at the World Robotics Championship, held in Michigan, USA.