Former President John Mahama says the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) will not reverse the free SHS policy if it wins elections in the future.
In a Facebook post Tuesday, the former president said, “There are no ‘naysayers’ when it comes to free SHS.”
A Senior Law lecturer at the University of Ghana Law School, Dr. Raymond Atuguba has recently expressed the fear that without any legislation binding all political parties to sustain president Nana Akufo-Addo’s government’s Free Senior High School [SHS] policy, it can be reversed by a succeeding government.
Speaking at a constitutional review conference at Dodowa, last week, Dr Atuguba said, “We need a long-term development plan that is binding on all governments, binding at a certain level of governance that for example, every government will say implement free SHS.”
“Let’s say that NDC wins in 2020 or 2024, you know they can cancel free SHS? what sense does that make? but right now without any binding national development plan, they can do that. With a binding national development plan, it indicates that every government must work progressively towards free SHS and no government can go against the laws binding it. And they can even add that when a government does that the system can go to the Supreme Court and stop them,” he explained.
The Minority in Parliament had predicted that the policy will collapse in five years if something urgent was not done about funding.
Former deputy education minister and MP for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa said “In 2018, we are talking about four terms, and yet you have provided for only ¢1.13 billion for free SHS; woefully inadequate.
“But Mr Speaker, what is more even troubling is that the whole of Ghana was expecting that the Budget under education would come with a Marshal Plan; a rescue package for the disaster, which this country is grappling with,” he added.
President Nana Akufo-Addo replied the Minority, saying, the “politically motivated propagandists and naysayers, who, in the last few years, said that free SHS was not possible and could happen only after 20 years, are now singing a new tune. They now claim free SHS is not sustainable and will crash in five years.”
The president said, “I continue to be puzzled as to the vehemence with which so-called social democrats oppose or attempt to undermine measures designed to address poverty. Their demagoguery and opportunism will always be exposed.”
But former president Mahama said in his Facebook post that free SHS was “…was recognized and enshrined in our constitution by the ordinary people of this nation.”
He said the “Disagreement over the programme is about the optimal pace of implementation. A more carefully considered plan of implementation adopted by broad stakeholder consultation would have resulted in clear policies and guidelines, which would have avoided the current challenges plaguing the programme and putting our students in harm’s way.”
According to Mr. Mahama, “This view is not mine only,” he said it is a view held “many in the NPP and non-partisan civil society.”
He recommended “a national stakeholders forum on the Free SHS Programme in order to carry the whole nation along.”
In his view, “The current legacy-seeking and ad hoc manner of implementation will multiply the current implementational problems over the next 3 years.
“The false publication by a newspaper that the NDC will reverse free SHS is most laughable, false and diversionary.
“Free SHS is constitutional, it must be implemented, but it must be implemented properly according to a clear plan that carries all stakeholders along,” the former president who is widely believed to be seeking a second chance to lead his party to the next election said.