The Vice President of the Republic, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has stated that the Free SHS policy introduced by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is a transformational policy meant to build the human capital of the nation for future development. Government expenditure on free SHS should therefore be seen as a necessary investment for the future of Ghana.
Speaking at Obo Kwahu in the Eastern Region on Saturday, 20th April, 2019, Dr. Bawumia noted that at independence the North negotiated for and obtained an agreement from the Nkrumah government to introduce free education in the North. This policy benefited northern Ghana significantly.
"I am a beneficiary of free education in the north, just like many members of the NDC including former President Mahama, and I am absolutely convinced that at this stage of our development, Free SHS should be enjoyed by every Ghanaian SHS student", Vice President Bawumia emphasised.
"I therefore find it rather difficult to understand that people like President Mahama who are direct beneficiaries of free education in the north will seek to curtail its implementation across the country".
Dr. Bawumia stated that Free SHS is definitely expensive but it would be more expensive for the country to have large numbers of people who are uneducated. Our mission should therefore be to help grow and manage the resources of Ghana in a manner that will enable us provide and sustain this transformational policy.
Since the September 2017 nationwide roll-out of the programme designed to provide free senior high school education to all Ghanaian youth, former President Mahama in particular and the NDC in general have questioned the rationale behind the programme, arguing that it was a misplaced priority that would have dire consequences on the nation's finances.
Ironically, former President Mahama and several leading lights of the NDC are beneficiaries of the decades-old free senior high school education policy for northern Ghana, but have never advocated for its cancellation due to financial challenges.
Dr. Bawumia noted that "Free SHS cannot be the problem. We are implementing so many programmes designed to reduce the hardships on Ghanaians, like massive reductions in electricity, implementation of the One Village One Dam, One District One Warehouse policies, while also increasing Capitation Grant and allowances for People Living with Disability," the Vice President stated.
"We have reduced import duties on goods and cars, engaged 100,000 graduates under NABCO, cancelled fees for postgraduate medical training, restored book and research allowances for lecturers, created jobs and stopped the freeze on recruitment in the public sector. Over 350,000 people have been recruited.
"But, even without Free SHS, your government cancelled teacher training allowances, cancelled nursing training allowances, cancelled import duty waivers for health professionals, and increased taxes on every conceivable good such as condoms, ambulances and cutlasses. You failed to provide employment for thousands of qualified graduates.
"We (NPP) are able to implement all of these policies alongside Free SHS because we are growing and managing the economy in a prudent manner. All Ghanaian youth deserve free senior high school education, and Nana Akufo-Addo's government will continue to deliver it."