President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) results of the first batch of the free senior high school (SHS) candidates have justified the decision of the government to invest heavily in free quality education for young people.
He said even though the initiative came with a huge cost to the nation, the government took the decision because all countries that had made giant strides in their social, economic, scientific and industrial sectors did so by investing more in education.
“If we are really going to cut the Gordian knot of development in Ghana, investing in the youth of our country, the young people of our country, was the surest way to go,” the President added.
President Akufo-Addo said this when some of the students who excelled in the 2020 WASSCE were introduced to him at the Jubilee House in Accra.
Out of the 465 candidates who had aggregate ‘A’ in eight subjects in the examination, 411 of them were Ghanaians. Also, the three Overall Excellent Awards were taken by Ghanaian students.
Some of the students could not, however, honour the invitation because they are currently pursuing tertiary education outside the country in the fields of medicine and engineering, among other courses.
President Akufo-Addo further expressed joy over the performance of the students, saying when the details were released, “I was beside myself - and the icing on the cake was the fact that the three most excellent students in the examination are Ghanaians.”
He said even though the students wrote the examination during the difficult period of the COVID-19 prevalence, they had proven that the investment made in them was worthwhile, adding that “we are going to make the free SHS a permanent feature of our educational system”.
Tracing the history of education and development in the world, President Akufo-Addo said the first country to implement free SHS was the United States of America because they saw the wisdom in investing in that sector to create access to quality high school education.
He said the result of their investment had culminated in the USA becoming the most industrialised country in the world.
President Akufo-Addo further said a person’s talent could only be unearthed when offered the opportunity such as the government had done with the free SHS policy, adding, “If you don't open the opportunity, you will never know who has the genius in him or her.”
The President commended the students for making the country, their parents and himself proud and urged them not to rest on their oars but continue to study hard to realise their vision of becoming what they wanted to be in future.
He said their progress would be monitored as they climbed the ladder of academic excellence, adding, “I am confident that with the performance you have exhibited, the end is also going to be excellent.”
President Akufo-Addo also expressed appreciation to parents of the students for nurturing and providing the needed guidance and support to them which had culminated in their excellent performance.
The Minister of Education, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, said the students did not take the huge investment in them for granted.
Each student, he said, was provided with free school uniforms, food, accommodation and four core textbooks while their school libraries were also stocked with the recommended textbooks.
Other support included an intervention grant which enabled the students to have extra tuition while a special training exercise was also organised for the teachers to equip them to assist the students in their studies.
“And in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, these students were able to demonstrate that they truly appreciated your effort, and for the first time in many years their performance as a whole distinguished them from the others who came before them,” the minister added.