President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo last Saturday cleared any ambiguity over the government’s policy to roll out its free senior high school (SHS) policy, effective September this year, saying SHS education would be truly free.
Speaking at the 90th anniversary celebration of the Krobo Girls’ SHS in Odumase Krobo in the Eastern Region, the President said while not wanting to sound repetitious, it was important for him to reiterate what he meant by free SHS, so that no one had any lingering doubts.
“By free senior high school, we mean that in addition to tuition, which is already free, there will be no admission fees, no library fees, no science centre fees, no computer lab fees, no examination fees, no utility fees. There will be free textbooks, free boarding and free meals and day students will get a meal at school for free. Free SHS will also cover agricultural, vocational and technical institutions at the high school level,” he said.
That, the President said, would mean that “more and more of our girls can have access to affordable and quality education, which will, in turn, speed up the development of our country”.
The government’s plan, he said, was also to put technical education at its relevant and proper place.
To that end, he said, it was committed to facilitating and supporting the rapid development of skills for students of technical and vocational schools.
Resources for education
In view of the strategic importance of education in national development, President Akufo-Addo underscored the need for the country to channel some of the proceeds from the oil and gas industry and other natural resources into the educational sector to produce a crop of educated and skilled human resource for accelerated national development.
“If we are to transform the lives of our people, if we are to transform our economy from a raw material producing and exporting one to a value added one, we need a literate population,” he said.
Instead of the revenue from the country’s oil and mineral resources ending up in the hands of a few people, he said, he was of the firm belief that the most equitable and productive way of using those resources was to educate and empower the population.
It was for that reason, he said, that the government had indicated that it would fund the cost of public SHS for all, beginning with the intake of the 2017/2018 academic year.
Access to education
He said the tradition of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) was predicated on the principle that leadership was about making choices.
“We have, thus, committed ourselves to using the proceeds from our natural resources, as captured in the Asempa Budget, to help educate the population to drive our economic transformation agenda,” he stressed.
President Akufo-Addo said it was the intent of the government to educate the population so as to drive the industrialisation process.
For that reason, he said, the government would put more emphasis on science and technology education and technical and vocational training.
He said it had become the norm for followers of development to lament the fact that Ghana started from the same pedestal with nations such as Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea.
The truth, he said, was that they (those countries) had made it simply by wiping out illiteracy and empowering a generation of citizens with education and skills to power their nations’ development.
“To build the Ghana that we desire, each and every one of us has a major stake in ensuring that we achieve excellence in our educational system and, by extension, excellence in the education of the girl child,” he added.
Building a proud future
The President, who is a father of five daughters, said every day her daughters served as a reminder to him that there could be nothing so important as to live up to their expectations and ensure that the nation that was being built was one where they would thrive and prosper and be proud Ghanaians.
“In each of my daughters’ eye I can see the Ghana that can be, the Ghana that must be; the Ghana fuelled by innovation and creativity and the passion of our young people, a Ghana of opportunity and prosperity,” he said.
President Nana Akufo-Addo praised the Krobo Girls’ SHS for the human resource it had contributed towards development in every sector of national life.
He said there were many others who had excelled in their various fields of endeavour largely as a result of the solid educational foundation that they received at the school.
The Headmistress of the school, Ms Cecilia Ohenewaa Appiah, extolled the hard work of the teachers and the students of the school, which had culminated in its high reputation and academic excellence.
In view of the increasing number of students in the school, she appealed to the government to build an 18-unit classroom block for the school.
She also appealed to the government to provide a bus for the school and develop its sports field as well.