President NanaAkufo-Addo (right) with Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia
VICE-President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia on Tuesday threw an open challenge to critics of the double-track system of the Free Senior High School (Free SHS) education policy to come out with an alternative solution if they consider it to be bad.
According to him, the double-track system, which is a temporary stop-gap measure, was introduced by government to address accommodation challenges in various secondary schools following the introduction of the Free SHS which doubled secondary school enrolment.
“We did not have sufficient infrastructure in most schools to accommodate the increased numbers. The Free SHS has resulted in a 69 per cent increase in enrolment. Today, 1.2 million children are benefiting from Free SHS and the question we faced was ‘whose child should be left at home?’” he asked rhetorically.
Members of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), including their flag bearer, former President John Dramani Mahama, have not stopped bashing the government for introducing the double-track system as part of the Free SHS policy.
Mr. Mahama, in one of his numerous criticisms, chastised the Akufo-Addo government for hurriedly implementing the policy without properly engaging with stakeholders, saying the NPP had destroyed secondary education by pushing it to “red-gold-green traffic.”
The Vice-President, however, said at the government’s organized town hall meeting on Tuesday that empirical evidence available is persuasive that the key to economic transformation is human capital, not natural resources, and that “this is why President Akufo-Addo has placed emphasis on making sure that every Ghanaian child, regardless of the financial circumstances of their parent will have access to free senior high school education.”
Dr. Bawumia described criticisms against the policy as unfair and insisted that taking away the double-track system at the present condition of infrastructural challenge would be tantamount to the abolition of the Free SHS policy.
“The thinking here is akin to how churches have first, second and even third services to deal with large numbers. There are people who say that we should have finished building the schools before introducing Free SHS, but I would say that it is better to educate a child even under a tree than to have them sitting at home,” he argued.
“The fact is that without the double-track system, hundreds of thousands of students would not be able to access Free SHS. Those who are criticizing the double-track system have not been able to offer an alternative. Abolishing the double-track system means abolishing Free SHS as we know it. Whose child should stay at home?” he asked rhetorically.
According to him, this is why government is investing in the construction of new infrastructure on the campuses of senior high schools across the country and pointed out that some schools were no longer even on the double track.
“The double-track system will, therefore, be over in just a few years for all schools when the infrastructure is completed. Interestingly, the Government of Kenya, facing similar challenges, has asked our Ministry of Education to assist them to introduce the double-track system in Kenya,” he added.
From Ernest Kofi Adu, Kumasi