Nana Akomea, a former Communications Director of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) has explained that the party said it was going to roll out the free senior high school (SHS) programme in phases and in a systematic manner.
Responding to accusations by the Minority in Parliament that rolling out the programme for only first year students without including second and third years was discriminatory, Nana Akomea said the Minority was not being truthful with the facts.
In a radio interview on Accra based Citi FM Tuesday morning, Nana Akomea indicated their campaign was clear that the programme was going to be systematic in its implementation on yearly basis.
He said the rollout plan was made public way back in 2012 when Prof George Gyan Baffour at a public forum explained how much it was going to cost in each year of implementation from year one, two and three.
On Page 119 of the NPP's 2016 campaign manifesto which touches on Free SHS, the party said it "would redefine basic education to include senior high school, covering vocational and technical schools and make it available for free on a universal basis."
The Minority Members of Parliament in criticising the policy have insisted that once form two and three students have been excluded, the programme is not universal as touted in the NPP manifesto.
But explaining, Nana Akomea said, "when we said we will make it universal, what we aimed for and which we should accomplish in the next four years is that, this business of having the BECE separating those who pass and those who fail, those who fail, it means that they cannot progress to secondary school, it means that their schooling as far as public policy is concerned finishes at JHS level. We have said that it is that termination of basic school at JHS/BECE as it is today, it is the major factor that leads the boys and girls to go onto the streets to sell imported chewing gum."
"And that if you extended basic school from BECE to secondary school, by the time the child finishes they will be about 18, 19. They would have had the basic education ...and more fitted to learn a trade or a vocation and would be less likely to go into the streets as against the current system where they finish BECE at age 15 and if they are unable to go to secondary school, then they fall out."
He said the universal idea would be achieved by the third year of the implementation of the programme.