A Deputy Ranking Member on the Education Committee of Parliament, Dr. Clement Apaak, has taken Richard Ahiagba, the Communications Director of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), to the cleaners for claiming that the pledge by former President John Dramani Mahama to review free SHS in his first 100 days means to cancel.
Dr. Apaak wondered how a well-educated personality like Mr. Ahiagba would make such an interpretation of what the NDC presidential candidate said.
Mr. John Dramani Mahama has announced a review of the Free Senior High School Policy (Free SHS) within the first 100 days of taking office if elected in the 2024 general elections.
He pledged to assemble a panel of educational experts to formulate an improved framework for implementing the policy.
He was addressing the Trades Union Congress (TUC) in Accra on Tuesday, November 7, underscoring the need for a stakeholder summit that would involve educationists, teachers, parents, students, and opinion leaders.
This summit would aim to enhance the free SHS system and elevate the quality of basic education.
Reacting to this, on a series of tweets, Mr. Ahiagba said “H.E John Mahama says he will review the Free Senior High School policy within 100 days if elected. Well, that simply means he will CANCEL the popular Free SHS policy as the NDC has always hinted. But why would a social democratic party be opposed to the interest of the masses? Do you remember my brother John Dumelo and the masses?
H.E Mahama must tell us what his review of the Free SHS policy would entail. We must get answers because it is primarily a financing intervention or initiative to eliminate the cost barrier to education for the masses.
H.E Mahama canceled the Teacher and Nursing trainee allowance. Well, now he wants to cancel the Free SHS policy too… Don’t allow him…”
Dr. Apaak lambasted the NPP National Communications Director for the terrible interpretation of what Mahama said.
It comes as no surprise to him, given that the NPP has chosen a famous liar as their presidential candidate.
He stated that even if the presidential candidate is a liar, Richard Ahiagba’s stale lies will not affect the fact that Mr. Mahama will improve the free SHS policy.
“When a party makes a legendary liar [DMB] it’s flagbearer, the despicable disease of lying is bound to infect otherwise decent guys like Ahiagba. If not, how can a well lettered man say REVIEW means CANCEL? No rational Ghanaian believes this stale lie. JM WILL MAKE fSHS BETTER.”
Dr. Apaak went on to say that the interpretation exposed and mocked Mr. Ahiagba because the administration exhibited interest in revising the policy.
He cited a recent interview in which Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah stated that Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s government is open to reviewing all of its sixteen major initiatives.
“I think right from the beginning government said that we were not going to start the Free Senior High School programme by targeting some and excluding some and that indeed all of those who qualified for senior high school were going to be beneficiaries.
“I think therefore that it is not news if somebody comes to view that the targeting is poor because we ourselves have said from the beginning that we are actually not going to be starting off by targeting anybody,” he said.
“If you compare to what they did in some states in America, this is how they started it and as the year went by then some more targeting was done. Which is exactly what we have announced from the 21st of March, 2020,” the Minister said.
Nana Addo’s call for a National Dialogue
Dr. Apaak also described how President Akufo-Addo announced in September 2022 that his government was open to a nationwide discussion about the government’s Free SHS initiative.
He suggested that such a discussion include finance, access, and sustainability.
Speaking at a meeting with the leadership of the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) at the Jubilee House, the President said though a number of people have had issues with the policy, it had come to stay.
“One of the things people are calling for is a review of free SHS. I think we should have a broader conversation about the incidence of education on our national development, and therefore also on our budgetary and public sector contributions to national education,”the President said.
Dr. Apaak reiterated that the president’s words, as well as the recent one by the government’s official spokesperson, place Mr. Ahiagba in a situation where he would be described as dishonest and a liar.
He also took the opportunity to remind the president that if he was serious about what he stated in 2022, he should take steps to organise the national dialogue he mentioned.