When President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo took the first shot at Ghana’s Presidency in 2008 his main/major campaign promise, 12 years ago, was to provide Free Senior High School for all Ghanaian children who will pass their BECE and gets admission to any Senior High School in the country.
It became a huge political debate at that time as people asked where he was going to get money to fund such a huge policy/project. His opponents even said he was just saying and making promises just to swindle people into voting him into power. President Akufo Addo lost the 2008 Elections by a slim margin to Late President John Evans Fiifi Atta Mills.
The issue of Free SHS became the most popular political talk once again in 2012 when President Akufo Addo was contesting for the second time. His main political opponents and the then government of the day, launched a massive political campaign claiming that the country does not have enough resources as at that time to implement the Free SHS policy. They said the least it will take any government to be able to implement such a comprehensive and capital intensive project was 20 years.
They launched a massive and huge political campaign on it to make alot of electorates believe that they are managing the affairs of the country as at that particular moment and knew what was going on so we shouldn’t allow the opposition leader, candidate Akufo Addo to deceive us,as he doesn’t know what he’s talking about and knows zilch about the Ghana economic coffers.Scathing attacks were launched on the policy and the personality of President Akufo Addo to hoodwink people to vote for them and with President John Evans Atta Mills passing away and John Dramani Mahama emerging out of a blue moon Free SHS and Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo lost once again.
In 2016, things changed and after 9 years of campaigning and making Free Senior High School education their main trump card, Ghanaians decided to vote massively for President Akufo Addo. His Presidency brought alot of hope to students who were completing Junior High School in 2017 and didn’t know how they were going to fund their Senior High School Education.
Immediately President Akufo Addo was sworn into Office as President of Ghana on 7th January,2017, he appointed Dr Mathew Opoku Prempeh Member of Parliament for Manhyia South Constituency as his Education Minister and straight away, the preparation for the implementation of Free Senior High School Policy took off in a momentous style.
The first batch of Free Senior High School students went to school on September 12, 2017. The official launch of the policy happened at West Africa Senior High School in Accra by the President,where it was announced that over 400,000 Ghanaian students were going to be beneficiaries of the program for the first year, simply put,all of them went to school without paying any mandatory fees.
The Free Senior High School is at the core,bottom and deep hearts of the majority of Ghanaian people who are extremely poor and cannot afford paying fees at Senior High School level. It is their only hope of a bright student in their family to be able to climb up high the academic ladder to be able to take them out of their abject poverty.Myself as an example,many of my friends were not able to have a taste of Senior High School education,simply not because of access or that they failed their examination. It was basically because they and their caretakers did not have adequate financial muscle to take them through Senior High School Education. Many people who were far brilliant than I am and you are,are wallowing at the downtrodden of the economic ladder simply because they couldn’t gather enough money to access Secondary Education.
But with the coming into forth of the Free SHS policy by the New Patriotic Party and the government of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, about 1.2million people are currently in school for free. Senior High School enrollment has increased by 65% which means that hundreds of thousands of some of these kids/beneficiaries will be walking aimlessly on Ghanaian streets doing nothing productive if not for Free SHS. The burden on parents and caretakers have now lessened hugely because money’s that would have been used for the payment of School fees can now be chanelled into a productive business venture. So far government has spent an estimated 2billion Ghana Cedis on the Free Senior High School Policy,where all mandatory fees of the over 1.2million students have been paid for the past 3 years and massive infrastructural works have happened in all public Senior High Schools scattered across the length and breadth of the country.
For this reason, I dare say the Free Senior High School Policy is a game changer in the history of Ghanaian politics and if properly sold and explained to the good people of Ghana well,it will surely win President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo the 2020 Presidential Elections for the New Patriotic Party and goes along way to change the destinies of many many Ghanaian children in a positive way.