Feature Article of Thursday, 6 December 2012

Columnist: Johnson & Klutse

RE: Mahama Promised 'free' SHS in 2008

In response to the widely published tape in the media regarding a purported statement made by HE president John Dramani Mahama on free SHS in 2008, we would like to take this opportunity to share our thoughts on the interpretation given to the issues raised on the said tape by the New Patriotic Party.
For the records, nowhere on the said tape did HE John Dramani Mahama sought to promise a blanket introduction of free SHS as claimed by the NPP and their surrogate media houses. The motive of the NPP and their affiliates is to deceive the good people of Ghana once again, in order to gain political mileage in the upcoming elections. Clearly, anybody who has followed Ghana’s politics since independence will attest to the fact that, this mischief is not unusual; indeed it is typical of the NPP and their unbalanced media houses.
You will recall that in 2008, the NDCs position on basic education was made clear, and these were exactly what the president espoused in the interview at the time. Then vice presidential candidate Mahama did not promise a blanket introduction of free secondary education, but rather explained the following:
Basic Education
1. Extend the “free” aspect of fCUBE for poor communities by ending extra fees and providing uniforms.
2. Establish community schools so no child walks more than 3 km to school.

You will concur that, most of these promises have been set into motion since the NDC came into office in 2009. For instance, the Capitation grant has been increased by 50 percent, which has reduced the cost burden on parents who have the wards at the basic education level.

Secondary Education
On the issue of secondary education, the president explained the NDC’s policy as captured in the 2008 manifesto. It is also critical to mention that, during the recent IEA encounter, president Mahama made it clear that, the NDC was not anti free SHS but rather supports the progressive introduction of the policy as prescribed by the 1992 constitution; which is completely at variance with the NPP’s position.

The rationale behind then candidate Mahama’s support for free community day secondary education was based on the fact that, it would encourage the citizenry to patronise these community schools, thereby reducing the cost and long travels associated with administering and accessing secondary education.

Interestingly, the wishy-washy 350 community schools proposed by the NPP within their secondary education policy had no provision for discouraging people from travelling outside their communities to access other secondary educational facilities. What made the NPP think that these 350 community schools would be patronised by the locals? Such is the poverty of an ill conceived policy.
It is instructive to note that, the president categorically stated the NDC’s desire in reducing the cost burden on parents in educating their wards. Indeed, educating a child in a community day school shouldn’t cost much as compared to educating a child in a boarding school.
We would therefore encourage both the print and electronic media houses, to engage the issues raised on the tape by His Excellency John Dramani Mahama intellectually, in a bid to properly educate and inform the public; which is the essence of good journalistic practice.
Our society needs it! Our young democracy demands it!
God bless our homeland Ghana!

By: Ken N. Johnson & David Klutse 05/12/12
(Pro-Democracy Research Group - UK)