By Iddi Muhayu-Deen
Believe it or not, we are now in the era of Free SHS and surely, this should make you happy if you love your country. Glory be thy name for making me live to see this day. You would remember that the cynics told us that this moment would never come. In fact, they even told us that if Free SHS has ever been possible in Ghana, a certain Dr. Kwame Nkrumah would have implemented it. They also said that anything free,
They essentially came across as suggesting that everything was possible in Ghana including going to the moon and building stomach infrastructure EXCEPT Free SHS. No wonder they only win elections in the prisons and NOT in educational establishments. They said a lot of negative things against free education. And as if they hadn’t said enough, they also told us that any politician or political party in Ghana that claims they would implement Free SHS if voted for, was engaged in politics of deception and naked mendacity and therefore should be DISREGARDED.
They cared very little about the annual national tragedy where hundreds and thousands of our younger brothers and sisters are compelled to prematurely truncate their education upon completing JHS; because their parents or guardians, genuinely, do not have the money to pay for their SHS education. I suppose their prescription is that the sons and daughters of say, the Charcoal Seller in my hometown, Kete-Krachi, should naturally grow up and become Charcoal Sellers whiles the children of the lawyers, bankers and doctors grow up becoming lawyers, bankers and doctors as the case may be. To them, your family background or home should necessarily determine what kind of future you would have.
The future of these poor and innocent students doesn’t matter to them. Perhaps, all that matters to them is how to enrich themselves and their cronies at our expense; so that, they could send their children to the luxurious schools within and outside the Ghanaian jurisdiction. In effect, they saw Education as the PRESERVE of the privilege few rather than a RIGHT for all. They gave no dame about, for instance, the profound observation made by one of the World’s all-time finest Human Rights Activist, Malcom X, who contended that, “Education is the PASSPORT to the future, for tomorrow belongs to only those who prepare for it today”. However, these unrepentant cynics I’m talking about would have none of that.
But the good news is that this country has been blessed with one particular man who sees EDUCATION as EVERYTHING. He indeed sees education as the passport to the future. Just like Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, if you gave this man an opportunity to make three most important investments in the lives of his people, he would, without equivocation, tell you that his 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choice would be EDUCATION, EDUCATION and EDUCATION. He has, both in words and in deeds, consistently maintained that no Ghanaian child should stop schooling because of financial challenges; else the State should be blamed for failing that child.
To him, central government must necessarily do everything to ensure that every Ghanaian child receives formal education, at least, up to the Secondary Level in order to give true meaning to our fundamental constitutional principle that says that, EDUCATION IS A RIGHT AND NOT A PRIVILEGE. This is the very principle and conviction underpinning his agelong position to roll out Free SHS system if he ever got an opportunity to be President of this country.
Anytime he spoke about his Free Education or Free SHS, he was heavily lampooned and bastardized by yet again, these cynics of our time. Like I said in my intro, they made us to believe that this man didn’t know what he was talking about, and more instructively, they made us to believe that he was deceiving Ghanaians and that, his true intent, was to use this Free SHS mantra to win votes; nothing more, nothing less.
As you know, the cynics had their way in the 2012 general elections because majority of the Ghanaian electorates believed them and voted against Free SHS. So, by that, these cynics had another opportunity to rule this country. You and I would bear testimony to the fact that they messed up everything including EDUCATION whilst visiting untold hardship and hopelessness on the Ghanaian.
But in the 2016 elections, glory be to God, the story was completely different. Ghanaians voted overwhelmingly for Free SHS and for that matter the man I’m talking about, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who was the 2016 Presidential Candidate of the NPP and now, the President of Ghana. And true to their electoral promise, we are today seeing the FULL IMPLEMENTATION of the much talked about FREE SHS by the Nana Addo-led NPP government. Interestingly, they didn’t have to wait for a year or two in order to settle down before implementing this monumental project.
They are actually implementing this grandiose policy within their first year in government, which is uncharacteristic of Ghanaian governments since independence in 1957. It just couldn’t have been better. Aside the President, one name that stands out in this Free SHS conversation is, the Minister of Education, Hon. Mathew Opoku Prempeh, popularly known as Napo. No wonder, President Akufo-Addo singles him out for commendations anytime he touts this historic Free SHS achievement of his government. Believe it or not, Free SHS is here with us. The Akufo-Addo government has done it.
And guess what? The cynics are back in town with yet again some ridiculous claims. They now tell us that the very Free SHS which they conspicuously said could NOT be implemented in Ghana, was actually implemented in the country when they were in government. Yes, you heard me right; they said they, rather than the Akufo-Addo government, implemented Free SHS and so, we should give them that CREDIT. Whilst they are saying that, some of them are also raising doubts about the reality of a Free SHS system in Ghana as we speak.
How can you, in one breath, say something is NOT possible and in another breath, say you have implemented it? A typical case of approbation and reprobation! What do they take Ghanaians for? Some zombies or what? Perhaps, they should be reminded that they can only fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time but surely, NOT all the people all the time.
Having said that, I wish to invite you my fellow countrymen and women to join me SALUTE our hardworking President and Vice as well as other leading members of the NPP government especially the Education Minister and his Deputies for doing what no government in our history has been able to even contemplate. Beginning this academic year and effective today, September 11, 2017, our younger siblings who enter SHS, are going to enjoy free tuition, free textbooks, free uniform, free admission fees, free science centre fees, free utility fees, free computer lab fees, free library fees, free examination fees, free boarding fees and free food for all day students.
It is most gratifying to note that government has already released money to all the public Senior High Schools (SHSs) in the country to cater for these cost elements. The government of President Akufo-Addo is of the firm conviction that, by making public Senior High School (SHS) education totally free for every Ghanaian child, the nation would be on the right trajectory to building an educated populace for speedy national development and progress. They have promised and they have delivered. If this doesn’t make you happy as a Ghanaian, I wonder what else will. Let’s remain good citizens for the love of our country.