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Opinions of Friday, 12 September 2014

Columnist: Abdul-Fatawu, Fuseini

Let Us Enjoy President Mahama’s Quality Education

Together Let Us Enjoy President Mahama’s Quality Education We Voted For…. (Part I)

The situation of the Ghanaian politician is always an interesting one especially when he desperately yearns to retain and maintain power. With such desperate measures, he makes desperately unrealistic promises to deceive a perceived gullible public with extremely short memories (to paraphrase President Mahama). This was the exact situation that made President Mahama and the NDC to deceive and hoodwink the good people of Ghana to reject the NPP’s realistic and feasible educational promises for a propagandist and deceptive ‘quality’ education.

If we recall, when the NPP made the promise of free education, the NDC attacked and made fun of it and in fact called it “419”. The NDC made it look like there was no quality education in the NPP’s free education though immediately after winning power (questionably) they made a U-turn and claimed the free SHS was their birthright.
In this little two series piece, we seek to refresh the minds of the Ghanaian public on some of the promises the NDC and president Mahama used to deceive us. President Mahama know very well we have short memories so it’s good we up our game to avoid being deceived and manipulated for the third time by the people who kept us in this unprecedented hardships.
President John Dramani Mahama has stated that even if he had extra resources, his immediate focus would remain on providing ‘quality’ rather than free education.

According to a story by Myjoyonline.com, Ernest Dela Aglanu published on: December 5, 2012, President Mahama said, although the constitution mandates that education be made free, it is crucial to ensure quality first. The remaining part of the story continues, “Education has been the focal point of this year's campaigns with the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) promising free senior high school (SHS) education if elected into office while Mahama’s National Democratic Congress (NDC) promises improve quality first and work on making education free down the line.

The president's most recent remarks come after the release of a tape allegedly from the 2008 campaign in which Mahama, then a vice presidential candidate, promised that the NDC would make SHS free for students of community day schools.

Speaking on the Sunrise program on TV3 Wednesday, President Mahama said, “I do think that our constitution provides for it [free education] and if we go by the constitutional provisions, we should be fine. It says that as resources become available, secondary and tertiary education should be made generally available and progressively free and so what it means is we must work towards it.”

However, he said, if at this point in Ghana’s development he had extra money to invest in education, he would “put it into trying to improve the quality. If you take our basic schools for instance, they are free but what is the quality of the product we are bringing out of the basic schools?”

He explained that currently, “we have schools of six classes that have two teachers. One teacher teaches class one, he jumps to class three and teaches, jumps to six and teaches. We need to train more teachers,” and provide more facilities including classrooms, dormitories and science laboratories.

“If I had extra money, I will invest it in improving quality. Somebody believes that if he has extra money he will invest it in making it free, he has his views I have my views. I think that we must improve quality and we must make it progressively free,” he added.”
This was president Mahama two-days to the 2012 elections. President Mahama in an effort to fulfill his promise has taken away the allowance teacher trainees enjoy whilst their fees have increased astronomically. One wonders where the “more teachers” will come from. And I hope we can all see the cunning and deceptive way of making it seem there is no quality in the free SHS education.
The promises and denials didn’t end there, the NDC with its propagandist election year official mouthpiece, setting the records straight forum, had this to present to Ghanaians on Wednesday, 24/10/2012. “The National Democratic Congress has stated emphatically that Access to Quality education is the most critical need facing education in our country. The NDC has explained that in the light of resource constraints that face Ghana, just like other developing countries, our foremost attention must be on channeling resources to improve the quality of education and access to quality education. NDC has stated that, given the resource constraints facing all sectors of our country making it impossible to do all things in all sectors at the same time, the issue of cost, important though it is, must not take precedence over access to quality education. To the NDC, when it comes to the issue of Cost, it must first be made fully free at the basic level-the root of the educational tree- before progressively being made free at the higher levels subject to resource availability. NPP's position can be summed up in the clarion call of free SHS now….
Ladies and gentlemen, let's now take a close look at NDCs range of policies on education.

First and foremost, the NDC unlike the NPP, firmly believes that the best approach to advancing the educational fortunes of our country is to focus on expanding the educational infrastructure of our country and thus increase access, invest in improving the quality of our education and thirdly to pay maximum attention to the basic level education- the root of the educational tree- by making it completely Free, Compulsory and Universal and subject to resource availability progressively make higher level education affordable.
At the tertiary level, the NDCs plan is to revamp and expand all polytechnic schools, work with GETFUND, NCTE and Accreditation Board to build the capacity of polytechnics in terms of faculty and infrastructure for them to become fully fledged technical universities and following the establishment of the two universities in Volta and Brong Ahafo, establish a new public university in the Eastern Region too.
Alongside aggressively building infrastructure, the NDC also believes that it is pivotal to aggressively pursue the issue of providing greater incentives to the teacher-who in the view of the NDC should be in the centre of any initiative aiming to raise the quality of education. Through the single spine salary policy, teachers have seen their wages increase significantly, thereby boosting morale and lessening the weight of their own personal burdens and enabling them to better focus on their students.

To achieve further teacher motivation, the NDC in the next four years proposes to implement a diversified mix of incentives including housing, training and professional development; ensure early processing of salaries of newly posted teachers as well as placement of newly promoted teachers on their corresponding salary levels.

The NDC also plans to build accommodation in schools across the country to take in 20,000 teachers and their families (prototype almost near completion at HO Poly)” (courtesy NDC UK website, Statement: Ndc's Quality Education Vrs Npp's Azaa 419 Free Shs Education,
Submitted By Awudu Sannie On Wed, 24/10/2012).

So we can now clearly see the lies and deception the NDC used to hoodwink us into the current mess we find in our educational sector. Not only are we now faced with a totally costly education, we are equally faced with the challenge of inadequate number of teachers, difficulty in processing the salaries of newly posted teachers, failure to pay the arrears of teachers who worked for it, unnecessary bureaucratic processes to follow before correcting simple mistakes on the pay slips, mysterious deletion of names people working and still at post etc.

The problems at the basic level they inherited in 2009 have been magnified and expanded to an extent that even to get a piece of chalk to use to teach in the classroom is a problem. The least said the School Feeding Programme, the better. The promise of making the basic level free seems to equally have been abandoned.

But in any case who are we to blame? I together with you have led the then youth less than 18year to this unprecedented mess. Never have we seen a government so clueless and propagandist like the Mahama led Yentia Obiara NDC administration.

We can however together clear this mess and move forward with Nana Addo and Dr. Bawumia to Victory 2016 and Presidency 2017 In Sha Allah. But for now, let us all together keep on enjoying President Mahama and the NDC Yentia Obiara ‘quality’ education…

I shall In Sha Allah be back…

Fuseini Abdul-Fatawu
0248967484
A NPP Polling Station Executive and Acting Secretary of Young Patriots in the Sissalaland