President John Dramani Mahama yesterday announced that his government was preparing to implement a free secondary education programme, after he and members of the National Democratic Congress had pooh-poohed the programme which was being passionately espoused by Nana Akufo-Addo during the 2012 electioneering campaign, and insisting that it would not possible to do it in the country.
President Mahama and the NDC are notorious for rushing to condemn policies and programmes proposed by Nana Akufo-Addo and the NPP, only to turn round to ‘steal’ them for poor implementation later.
During the 2008 electioneering campaign, then NDC Vice Presidential Candidate Mahama exhibited the same character when the New Patriotic Party Presidential Candidate promised to establish the Northern Development Fund, to be administered by the Northern Development Authority, to spearhead the rapid development of the north.
Mr Mahama at the time said the amount of $10m that had been proposed as the seed money for the fund could better be utilised in effecting payment of the then debt owed by the then Ghana Telecom.
Also during the 2012 electioneering campaign, President John Mahama described Nana Akufo-Addo’s promise of putting up hostel facilities for Kayayei (head porters) and other vulnerable young workers, like street hawkers, “as the most insulting of all his promises.”
Addressing a party rally at Savelugu in the Northern Region on Wednesday, October 31, 2012, the President described the promise, which included a vocational and technical training programme, as a clear indication that the then NPP flagbearer was very desperate to win power.
Having treated with contempt, the promise to provide free secondary education made by Nana Akufo-Addo during the 2012 electioneering campaign, President Mahama yesterday announced, during the presentation of his 2014 State of the Nation Address to Parliament, that the Ministry of Education in “consultation with other stakeholders has prepared a report on the roadmap for a progressive introduction of free secondary education in Ghana as required under the 1992 constitution”.
According to President Mahama, the 2015/2016 academic year will see the commencement of the abolishing of fees in Day Senior High Schools, adding that the measure is in accordance with his government’s plan to progressively introduce free senior high education in the country.
President Mahama and the NDC had previously maintained that the nation did not need free education and that what was important was making education accessible to all.
But yesterday he said the time had come for the nation to show greater seriousness to issues of education, including making it free, adding: “We must make education a priority again. The students of this nation deserve to have the confidence that comes from knowing that the education they are receiving will adequately prepare them to navigate this competitive global workplace.”
Touching on the promise to build 50 Day Schools a year, which was supposed to have started last year, Mr Mahama said the project was on track even it had been delayed for a year. He said architectural designs for the schools had been completed and sites for the projects identified.
According to him, “the road map will be soon presented to Parliament for deliberation. Architectural drawings, designs and quantities have been completed. Sites for the schools have been selected and the procurement process for the first batch of schools is ongoing”
The president said government was looking to rationalize senior high school fees and advised parents to report heads of high school institutions who charge more than the approved fees.
As has become his mantra, President Mahama assured Ghanaians of better days ahead in spite of the current socio-economic challenges facing the country, claiming that the ‘pragmatic measures’ being taken by his government would soon yield fruitful results.
The president said his government must not entirely be blamed for the present hardship in the country because “we have all at some point had to bear the tastes of bitter medicine in order to restore our bodies to good health”.