Pres touts Free SHS success …slams critiques, say ‘I am proud of policy and its results

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has expressed utmost satisfaction with the Free Senior High School policy, introduced by his administration in September 2017.

That, he said, was evidenced in the 2020/ 2021 West African Senior Secondary School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE) results in which the second batch of the “Akufo-Addo graduates” showed 54.08 per cent of students recording A1-C6 in English, as compared to 51.6 per cent in 2016; 65.70 per cent recording A1-C6 in Integrated Science in 2021, as against 48.35 per cent in 2016; 54.11per cent recording A1-C6 in Mathematics, as compared to 33.12per cent in 2016.

Speaking at the 70th-anniversary celebration of the Tamale Senior High School (TAMASCO) in Tamale over the weekend, President Akufo-Addo that the experiences of developed nations had shown that the most efficient way to create a society of opportunities, and, thereby, guarantee the future of a nation, is by investing in education and skills training of the youth.

 According to the President, “five years on, following the implementation of the Free Senior High School programme, which has guaranteed a minimum of Senior High School education for 1.6 million Ghanaian children, I want to state, without any equivocation, that I am very proud of the policy and of its results thus far.”

Without an educated populace, he stated, Ghana could not transition from the status of a developing to a developed nation, adding that “it is the people of Ghana, Ghanaians like you and I, and especially the youth of today, who are going to build Ghana”. 

“There were some who described Free SHS as “a waste”; some said it would “destroy our Ivy League Schools”, and some indicated that the policy was going to compromise the quality of senior high school education.

“None of these have happened, and I am sure they have eggs on their faces now, or should have,” President Akufo-Addo stated.

Lest we forget, the 2021 batch of students were the pioneers of the double track system, which elicited a lot of vilification and unfounded criticism on its introduction.”

Another indication of the value of the Free SHS policy, he stated, is the dramatic increase in the percentage of students from TAMASCO, who have qualified to attend University.

 The President, thus, appealed to all Ghanaians to “forgo partisan, parochial considerations, which confer little benefit, and all agree that Free SHS has to be a part of our national educational architecture, for, at least, a generation, if not forever. Our nation will clearly be empowered and enriched”.  

Reinforcing the government’s commitment to ensure the provision of quality, relevant education, President Akufo-Addo told the gathering that Government has introduced the teacher licensure regime aimed at professionalising teaching, and bringing it in line with international best practices.

The government, he added, has commenced the construction of 20 Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) centres across the country, with all 20 at various stages of completion.

Additionally, 1,119 projects, being constructed under the Free Senior High School Infrastructure Intervention, 657 have been completed, with some 2,718 vehicles procured and distributed by the Ghana Education Service to various institutions across the country.

A Diplomat, Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambas, challenged stakeholders to play their respective roles effectively and efficiently to ensure quality education.

He stated that children needed to be equipped with knowledge in order to contribute to development of the country.

Dr Chambas who is also an old student challenged the headmaster and the staff to continue to ensure discipline in the school in order to maintain its glory and reputation.

The Headmaster of TAMASCO, Edward Azika, commended the government for its support given to the school.

FROM ABDUL MAJEED YAKUBU, TAMALE

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