Former President John Mahama
Former President John Mahama appears to be unhappy with the opportunity given to tens of thousands of Ghanaian students, especially those from poor homes to access education under the Free Senior High School (SHS) programme.
He expressed frustration with the large intake of students under the programme once again, even though poor students are mainly benefitting from the laudable initiative of the current Akufo-Addo administration.
He said that the huge influx of students would affect the quality of public schools.
Speaking at the University of Cape Coast (UCC) in the Central Region on Thursday where the NDC said organised a lecture on the state of education in Ghana, Mr. Mahama stated that “what we are doing with this huge influx into the secondary school system [due to the free SHS programme] is going to affect the quality of the public schools.”
He went on to predict doom for the pro-poor policy, saying, “and soon we are going to find a system where people lose faith in public schools and everybody will pay to take their wards to private secondary schools. That is the danger we are talking about.”
Many students have gained access to secondary education since the current Akufo-Addo administration started the implementation of the programme in September 2017.
The first year of the programme recorded an upsurge in enrolment, with about 400,000 students starting school in the 2017/18 academic year.
The large intake forced government, through the Education Ministry, to introduce the Double Track System to give many students the opportunity to benefit from the Free SHS policy.
Government earmarked GH¢1.682 billion for the implementation of the Free SHS programme in the 2019 budget.
This means that the number of enrolment would increase exponentially.
But Mr. Mahama appears to be unhappy with the high financial investments the government is making to educate Ghanaian children.
He raised concerns about the investment of GH¢2 billion by the government in free senior high schools alone in the second term to the detriment of other sectors of the economy.
According to him, the high investments in Free SHS have the tendency to negatively affect education and collapse the sector.
The former president, whose National Democratic Congress (NDC) claims to be a socialist party, has been kicking against the Free SHS policy, which is benefitting poor students and their parents.
BY Melvin Tarlue