Former President John Mahama
IT IS becoming increasingly difficult to understand former President John Dramani Mahama’s stand as far as the implementation of the Free Senior High School (SHS) programme is concerned.
This is because he continues to blow hot and cold over the policy in a manner that suggests that he simply tends to favor the initiative when he realizes that an opposition to it is apparently placing his political career in danger.
It would be recalled that while speaking at the University of Cape Coast (UCC) in the Central Region on Thursday, April 11, 2019, Mr. Mahama stated “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 programme, 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.”
Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia while speaking at an NPP’s rally held at Kwahu in the Eastern Region over the weekend, described the claim by Mr. Mahama that the nationwide roll-out of the programme is causing hardships as untenable and not supported by the facts.
Dr. Bawumia noted the hardships and suffering of Ghanaians during the tenure of the former President and pointed out that “even without Free SHS, the Mahama government cancelled teacher training allowances, cancelled nursing training allowances, cancelled import duty waivers for health professionals, and increased taxes on every conceivable good including bicycles, condoms, ambulances and cutlasses.
In response to the Vice President’s comments, Mr. Mahama, in a statement issued by his Special Aide,
Joyce Bawah Mogtari, says he “…has never been against free SHS; and nowhere has he ever said free SHS is a bad policy. Certainly, the President who implemented Progressively Free SHS for over 350,000 students cannot be said to be against free SHS. We challenge Dr. Bawumia to provide evidence of the former President ever saying he is against free SHS.”
Each day student under his Progressively Free Senior High School, DGN Online gathered, owed Gh¢ 38 per annum.
Interestingly, he noted in the statement that he “remains committed to a better Free Senior High School Programme.”
According to the statement issued by his Aide, “Mr. Mahama, just like all well-meaning Ghanaians, believes free SHS must be made better instead of the ad-hoc implementation we are witnessing under the Akufo-Addo administration.”
It added that “for example, presently the ‘Double Track System’, which keeps some students at home while others are in school studying remains a major worry to students, parents and many Ghanaians who care about the future of the youth of Ghana.”
Surprisingly, Mr. Mahama while demanding a better Free SHS is kicking against an investment of Ghc 2 billion into the programme by the Akufo-Addo’s administration.
He recently raised concerns about the investment of GH¢2 billion by the government in Free Senior High School alone in the second semester to the detriment of other sectors of the economy.
According to him, high investments in Free SHS has the tendency to negatively affect education and collapse the sector.
His opposition to the spending of the Gh¢ 2 billion into the programme makes it extremely difficult to understand how the programme could be made better without any significant investment.
BY Melvin Tarlue