I will fix Akufo-Addo’s problematic Free SHS – Mahama assures

Former President John Mahama has lamented that the Free Senior High School programme in its current form is expensive than when parents used to pay fees for their children in second cycle institutions.

The 2020 presidential candidate for the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) said when voted to power, his government will fix the challenges bedevilling the pro-poor policy which is now costing parents more.

Mr Mahama said this when addressing NDC delegates at Garu in the Upper East Region as part of his nationwide tour to solicit support in his bid to lead the party to elections 2024.

“Free SHS is not working properly, the benefit it is supposed to give the parents, they are not getting. I can tell you today that the money we are spending on our children to go to school is far more than when we used to pay school fees,” he said.

Assuring Ghanaians about tackling the challenges such as accommodation and food shortages, Mr Mahama said, “We are going to repair the free SHS and make it better and create the situation when where school reopens, all the children will go together and when they vacate they all come home together.”


Mr Mahama in the past few years has been consistent with his criticism of the Free SHS policy. He has always hinged his concerns on the Akufo-Addo government’s inability to complete some community day schools (E-Blocks) the erstwhile National Democratic Congress (NDC) government initiated to help absorb more students into senior high schools (SHSs).

The school blocks were built across the country to cater for the infrastructural deficits in the country’s SHSs while the government rolled out the ‘progressively free senior high school policy’.

However, the Mahama-led government lost the 2016 elections, stalling most of the projects.

The Ministry for Education under the leadership of Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh announced that the Akufo-Addo government had completed some of the school projects bequeathed to them in 2017.

But Mahama believes the government has not done enough to finish the projects and get students in SHS to study comfortably.


Speaking in an interview on Bogoso-based Trinity FM in 2021,  Mr Mahama indicated that the completion of the E-Blocks would have saved the government from running the double-track system.

Former President Mahama standing by one of the E-Blocks during a tour of the Northern Region

“Everything you’ll do, you have to apply wisdom. To start the free SHS, you have to know that when you open the gates like that, the children will be many and that means you have to make provisions for the students before opening the gates,” the 2020 NDC Presidential candidate said in Akan.

He also said the failure to complete the E-Blocks has become  “a waste of taxpayers’ money”, adding that the government has left the projects unattended to and is embarking on different projects.

“Today some of the schools have been left unattended to. If they were operational, there wouldn’t be this double track,” Mahama added. “Because of this, the quality of education is declining and that is why the children want to rely on ‘apor’ (exam leakages) before going to the examination centre.”

He continued, “We have heard how students got angry after their final exams and went on rampage, attacking teachers because they did not allow them to engage in examination malpractices.”

To him, “if the quality of education in the second-cycle institutions is good and you train the children well, we won’t be seeing all these.”

Experts’ Concerns

Mr Mahama’s claim has been corroborated by some experts in the country who believe the double-track is dwindling the quality of education in the country’s public senior high schools.

For instance, a sociologist and lecturer at the University of Ghana, Dr. Sampson Obed Appiah has cautioned policymakers in the country’s education sector to, as a matter of urgency, take steps to tackle the issues that are reducing the quality of education in the second cycle institutions in the country.

“Because we could not plan ahead of the free SHS, there has been an infrastructural gap which is adversely affecting the quality of education,” Dr. Appiah said on Tonton Sansan on TV XYZ.

He argued that the policy has turned into a capitalist idea due to the reduction of contact hours which force parents to resort to paying teachers to take their children through extra classes.

“I attended Mawuli School for 3 years but the only time I did extra classes was when I was in my final year, but today it is not like that. Someone told me at Peki that he is paying GHS 200 cedis for every core subject for his ward to be taught at home,” the lecturer noted in August 2021 when the challenges of the programme had overwhelmed the government.

Source: Henryson Okrah |Myxyzonline.com

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