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General News of Sunday, 30 May 2021


President Akufo-Addo unhappy over false reportage on Free SHS

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo

• President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is unhappy about a recent report of his flagship Free SHS policy

• He asked if a response from his government will be seen as an attack on press freedom

• He urged the media and government need to be open to dialogue on issues

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is unhappy over false reportage against his government’s flagship Free Senior High School (SHS) policy.

According to him, he was under the impression that the Free SHS was accepted by everyone including the political parties until he heard of a discussion on a radio station.

The Free SHS report on Accra based Joy FM discusses the challenges bedevilling the implementation of the pro-poor policy. Teachers, parents and students shared their challenges regarding the implementation of the programme.

Among the challenges confronting the government’s Free SHS programme that were mentioned included, lack of accommodation facilities resulting in students sleeping on the floor, congestion in classrooms, inconvenience relating to erratic schedules for the double-track system, poor quality of food served to students, little attention to the end of semester examinations and minimal contact hours.

But speaking at a ceremony at the University of Cape Coast (UCC) on Saturday, May 29, where an Honorary Doctorate degree was conferred on him, President Akufo-Addo said, “a radio station is currently running a campaign against Free SHS. During the last election, I got the impression that Free SHS was endorsed by all political parties and all that was needed to do was keep improving it. Would a spirited defence of Free SHS constitute an attack on press freedom? I wonder.”

He added, “inasmuch as journalists have their opinions, there should be a legitimate expectation of seeking the other side or welcoming a reply to the other side of the stories they run.”

President Akufo-Addo noted that, "it cannot be that everyone has a right of a reply except members of the government and officialdom nor a challenge in the opinion expressed by a journalist constitute an attack of freedom of the press.

“Let me end by addressing a particular line of the current argument about the rights and freedoms. I believe this has led to a new definition of the culture of silence. It goes along the line that when people in government and government policies are criticized and there’s a defence of the people of policies, it is intimidatory and leads to a culture of silence”

Addo-Akufo urged both the media and government need to be open to dialogue on issues.

“Knowledge has never been a gift granted exclusively to one group. We must listen and hear each other more,” he implored.

President Akufo-Addo indicated further that, the amount of criticism he has received, which would have not been tolerated under certain regimes in Ghana’s political history, was evidence of the healthy state of the press.

“I find it ironic that the presidency of a man who has been and continues to be daily the most vilified political figure of his generation can be accused of presiding over a culture of silence.

“There is no midnight knock on the door in Ghana or authors of dissenting views nor will there be during my presidency,” Akufo-Addo assured.