Former President John Mahama has reiterated his resolve to improve the Free Senior High School programme should his National Democratic Congress (NDC) win the 2020 presidential elections.
The NDC flagbearer said nobody can abolish the programme as being alleged he will do if elected.
While addressing traditional leaders in the Avenor traditional area as part of his Volta Regional tour, John Mahama said the NDC government started the Free SHS policy and was progressively implementing it before it left office, however, the New Patriotic Patriotic Party (NPP) failed to take off from when his government ended.
“We started it [Free SHS]. It is in our Constitution. We started it in 2015. We made it free for all day students and then we added boarding students in 2016 and then we left office and the new government came. And so it is logical that they continue free SHS. But the mode of implementation has been very poor and that is why I say when we come, we will make it better. There is nobody who can abolish free SHS in this country, and so if anybody comes and says John Mahama says when he comes he will abolish free SHS, he is a liar. What we are going to do is to make it better,” he said.
He said the government’s lack of vision has resulted in congestion in various Senior High Schools and consequently forcing it to adopt a double-track system of education to accommodate the large student population.
He added that he expected the Akufo-Addo government to complete the Community Day SHSs building projects his government started to accommodate the increased number of school enrolments.
“Unfortunately, this current president did not have the vision, because he should have just continued the Secondary schools we were building. You would not have had the double-track problem that you have today because those schools would have completed and the children will have access and you will not have the congestion,” he told the gathering.
The Free SHS program has become a controversial subject in political discussions with some members of the NPP accusing John Mahama of hypocrisy in claiming that the idea is laudable and was initiated by his administration.
‘Focus on TVET’
John Mahama said his government will make technical and vocational education free to ensure that educated young people are skilled enough to meet the demands of the job market.
“For the countries that have developed, they developed not because of long grammar [or] English education. They have developed because of technical and vocational education and training…That is why I am proposing free technical and vocational training for anyone. So all the children who opt for technical and vocational training, they would have free access until they reach technical university so that we will be able to create that manpower that we need to be able to move the nation forward,” he said.