Vice President President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia
The government is providing over 1,000 infrastructure projects across the country to make senior high school education more accessible to the children of Ghana, Vice-President Bawumia has stated.
This major investment in education is anchored on the firm conviction of the Akufo-Addo administration that the key to economic transformation is human capital, not natural resources, hence the need to equip Ghana’s next generation with the requisite skills and knowledge to move the nation’s development agenda.
Dr Bawumia shed more light on the Akufo-Addo administration’s philosophy on education when he addressed participants at the two-day Government Townhall and Results Fair taking place at the Great Hall of the University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, on Tuesday, 11 February 2020.
“The empirical evidence is very persuasive that the key to economic transformation is human capital, not natural resources. This is why President Akufo-Addo has placed an emphasis of making sure that every Ghanaian child, regardless of the financial circumstances of their parent will have access to free senior high school education.
“This was a promise we made prior to the election in 2016 and one that we have fulfilled. It is the most significant social intervention introduced in Ghana since independence. We are investing and building capacity for the future of this country.
“We had a big challenge however. We did not have sufficient infrastructure in most schools to accommodate the increased numbers (The free SHS has resulted in a 69% increase in enrollment). Today, 1.2 million children are benefiting from free SHS. The question we faced was “Whose Child Should be left at home?”
“In response to this challenge we introduced the ‘double-track’ system as a temporary solution to the problem while we construct new school infrastructure. The thinking here is akin to how churches have first, second and even third services to deal with large numbers.
“There are people who say that we should have finished building the schools before introducing free SHS but I would say that it is better to educate a child even under a tree than to have them sitting at home. With that same logic we would have had to finish building all the hospitals we need before introducing the NHIS!”
Dr Bawumia defended the introduction of the double-track system, insisting that “without the double-track system, hundreds of thousands of students would not be able to access free SHS. Those who are criticising the double-track system have not been able to offer an alternative. Abolishing the double-track system means abolishing free SHS as we know it. Whose child should stay at home?
“This is why government is investing in the construction of new infrastructure at senior high schools across the country and some schools are no longer on the double track. The double-track system will, therefore, be over in just a few years for all schools when the infrastructure is completed.
“Interestingly the Government of Kenya, facing similar challenges, has asked our Ministry of education to assist them to introduce the double-track system in Kenya.”
Dr Bawumia urged the electorate to give the Akufo-Addo administration four more years to do more for Ghana, saying: “We need a government that is committed to the free SHS system. A government that is prepared to commit the resources to finance it. Can we entrust the Free SHS policy to someone who did not believe in it in the first place? To someone who said it was a gimmick? To someone who said if he had GHS2 billion he would not spend it on Free SHS? To someone who says he would abolish double track but has no alternative to offer?”