“Free SHS has come to stay, and the people of Ghana will never allow the dreamers, who have still not woken up from the slumber of their defeat in 2016, to come and cancel it under the guise of a so-called ‘review’”.
These were the words of the President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, on Saturday, 30th November, 2019, when he spoke at the 70th anniversary celebration of Prempeh College, in Kumasi, in the Ashanti Region.
Addressing the gathering, President Akufo-Addo noted that, as a result of the Free SHS policy introduced in September 2017, some 1.2 million children are currently enrolled in Senior High Schools in Ghana, the highest such enrolment in our history.
“This means that, over the last three years, some four hundred thousand (400,000) more students, as compared to 2016, have had the opportunity gaining access into our senior high schools. We intend to make sure that no child is denied the opportunity of senior high school education by reason of poverty,” the President added.
To current SHS 3 students, who are the first beneficiaries of the Free SHS policy, and are scheduled to write the West African Secondary School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE) in June next year, the President had a message for them.
“You should always remember that there are some powerful political actors in our country who never wanted, and still do not want the policy. They described it as a gimmick, declared it attainable only after twenty (20) years, said it was too expensive, and now they are saying when they come back, God knows when, they will review it,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo continued, “Final year students, you have a big responsibility to make sure that your grades and examination results are positive and exemplary. Make good use of the sets of past questions and answer booklets procured from the West Africa Examination Council to help you in your studies.”
Describing Prempeh College as a school with a solid reputation for excellent WASSCE results, the President stressed that “next year’s results should even be better than this year’s, so that, together, we can shame the detractors and those who do not want the policy to succeed. I have utmost confidence that you will rise to the challenge.”
Reiterating his Government’s commitment to addressing, head-on, the inherent challenges confronting the Free SHS policy, President Akufo-Addo stated that “I take comfort in the words of Holy Scripture, in Ecclesiastes chapter 11, verse 4, which says: ‘If you wait until the wind and the weather are just right, you will never sow anything and never harvest anything’”.
Additionally, the President told the gathering that, beyond improving access, Government is committed to ensuring quality, relevant education that will produce confident, skilled global citizens, fully versed in the new, digital technology, and ready and able to compete with their counterparts anywhere in the world.
He indicated that his Government is introducing reforms to teacher education and training because the teacher is at the centre of any education reform.
“We have also introduced the teacher licensure regime aimed at professionalising teaching, and bringing it in line with international best practices. In September this year, we rolled out a new curriculum for kindergarten and primary schools, whilst those of the junior high school and senior high school curricula are under active study,” he added.
Other reforms, he said, include an overhaul of the school inspection and accountability system, as well as technical and vocational education and training regime, with Government also assisting in trying to formulate a policy that will enable teachers to buy their own homes, and guarantee their security in their retirement.