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Assessing The Fate Of Free SHSs In The 2024 General Elections – Kwabena Adu Koranteng Writes

There is no doubt about the fact that the Free Senior High School (FSHS) program being implemented by the Akufo Addo led NPP government would be a key issue for consideration in the 2024 general elections.

The formulation and propagation of the FSHS concept in the 2008 electioneering campaigns generated a lot of controversies with the NDC claiming that it was not possible to be successfully implemented while the NPP assured that it was possible and feasible.

The controversies and the arguments emerged once again in the 2012 general elections but the NDC managed to win the elections with the promise to initiate and implement its own progressive FSHS which never materialized.

That compelled the electorates to put the trust in Candidates Akufo Addo and test his pulse regarding his version of the Free Senior High School and whether he could fulfil his promise. The FSHS promised did the magic and the NPP won the 2016 general elections with about 1.2 million votes. The implementation of the program began earnestly in 2017 benefitting over four hundred thousand students in that year alone. These students wouldn’t have been in school at all if the policy had not been implemented. It really brought joy and relief to parents whose children had benefitted from the program. The fact is that these parents didn’t pay anything for their wards since the policy or program took care of all.

The successful implementation of the FSHS did the magic again for the NPP in the 2020 general elections and massively endorsed the NPP government and president Akufo Addo. President Akufo Addo thus, had another four year term to continue with the successful implementation of the FSHS program.

Once again it’s an election year, but President Akufo Addo will not be contesting since he has fully exhausted his constitutionally mandated two terms. He has been replaced by his indefatigable Vice President, also known as digital Bawumia as the new flagbearer of the ruling NPP

Interestingly, the issue of free SHS still persists and the NDC have started their campaign again as regards the decision of the flagbearer, John Mahama to review the program since according to him it’s fraught with some Challenges.

The flagbearer of the announced a review of the Free Senior High School Policy (Free SHS) within the first 100 days of taking office if elected in the 2024 general elections.
“Within the first 100 days in government, we will convene a stakeholder summit that brings together educationists, experts, teachers, parents, students and opinion leaders to deliberate on how to improve the implementation of the Free SHS system and also improve the quality of our basic education,” Mr Mahama.
His comments were rebuffed by Ghana’s indefatigable Minister of Education, Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum who said the Free SHS policy or program does not need a review but improvements

Education Minister, Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum, firmly rejected calls for the review of the Free SHS policy during an interview on the Citi Breakfast Show on Tuesday, January 9, 2024.

While acknowledging that the policy has faced criticism, Dr. Adutwum emphasized that it requires improvements in specific areas rather than a complete review.
Addressing questions regarding the potential review of Free SHS, Education Minister Adutwum stated that the policy, in its current form, does not necessitate a review but rather targeted improvements.

He highlighted the need to focus on training teachers to ensure they are well-prepared for effective teaching, ultimately leading to better learning outcomes.
“Anything that you do, there will be areas that need improvements. [On] improvements we can look to train teachers and make sure that teachers are well prepared to teach for better learning outcomes.”

When questioned about the possibility of parents paying for boarding while day education remains free, Dr. Adutwum firmly responded in the negative, stating, “No…We just have to improve the learning outcomes and ensure that the investment is worth their while of Ghanaians so that they know that their taxpayers are being used to their benefit and we are bridging the gap between the rich and the poor.”

Towards the 2020 general elections President Akufo-Addo expressed shock and dismay at claims by former President John Dramani Mahama that he (Mahama) started the Free SHS.

He said such false claims by the NDC flagbearer was a clear indication that the NDC campaign was collapsing in confusion.
“When I promised to bring Free SHS, he said it was not possible and that I was lying to Ghanaians for their votes and that it was going to take over two decades before Ghana could implement such a policy,” he stated.

Addressing drivers and market women at the Odorkor Trotro Station in Accra he said former President Mahama before 2016 told Ghanaians that even if he had Gh₵2 billion, he would not spend it on free SHS, but use it on something better.

The President said it was shocking that the very person who said it was not possible would turn round to claim that he brought the free SHS.
He said it was insensitive on the part of the former President to resort to lies and deceit as campaign tools and strategies.

Kwabena Adu Koranteng Senior Journalist – Korantengadu@gmail.com0208456817

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