Lawyer and the immediate past Executive Director of the Danquah Institute, Gabby Otchere-Darko, has criticized President John Mahama’s plan to introduce free education in senior high schools in the country.
In a series of Facebook posts Wednesday, Gabby said the Mahama administration’s decision to implement a ‘Free SHS’ programme after kicking against it in the run-up to the 2012 General Election, was simply an attempt to deny the New Patriotic Party (NPP) a campaign message in 2016.
He said the move exemplified the “cynicism that has characterized governance under the NDC”.
“It is all about the next election and not about the next generation. How can we deny the NPP a message on free SHS in 2016 and not how can we deny our children illiteracy, a future of uncertainties,” he lamented.
Gabby went on to point out that the “Free SHS” being offered by Mahama is markedly different from what was proposed by Nana Akufo-Addo, the NPP Presidential Candidate in 2012.
He said whereas Mahama plans to make SHS progressively free by absorbing the fees for Day Students at an annual total cost of Gh₵71 million, Akufo-Addo’s ‘Free SHS’ plan will see fees for both day and boarding students absorbed.
He said Akufo-Addo’s ‘Free SHS’ would cost Gh₵750 million.
Gabby expressed suspicion that what the President said was designed to achieve the very effect creating the deceptive impression that he is implementing Akufo-Addo's free SHS.
“You may bash him all you want, at the end of [the] day, his cynical aim, he hopes, would have been achieved by blunting what could be, once again, a 'killer punch' for NPP in 2016. But, the two are not the same. At all!”
President Mahama Tuesday announced plans for the ‘Free SHS’ programme in his State of the Nation address to Parliament.
He said in accordance with the 1992 Constitution, the programme would be rolled out progressively.
“The Ministry of Education, following consultations with stakeholders has prepared a report on the roadmap for a progressive introduction of free secondary education in Ghana as required under the 1992 constitution,” the President said.
“This roadmap will be presented to Cabinet for approval and subsequent implementation. Under the guidance of this roadmap, we can anticipate that fees for day students will be abolished at an estimated cost of GHȻ71 million in 2015/2016 academic year,” he added.
The introduction of ‘Free SHS’ was a contentious issue in Ghana in the run-up to the 2012 elections. While the NPP campaigned that it would implement it once voted into power, the NDC warned that its instant introduction would undermine quality education in second-cycle institutions and so it should be rolled out gradually.