The National Democratic Congress’ (NDC) running mate for the 2020 election, Professor Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang, has intimated that the NDC government started the free SHS program but, in a more prudent way that focused on improving learning outcomes.
Speaking on the Point of View, the former Minister of Education pointed out that the NDC government’s view on waiving fees for students was to target students who actually needed support rather than granting every student including those who could have afforded, free education. Elaborating her point, she posited that the previous government invested in expanding infrastructure and provision of needed facilities to improve upon the quality of education, that looked at getting more students enrolled.
Chiding the Akufo-Addo government, Prof. Agyemang indicated that the government’s “full scale” approach to free SHS was problematic.
“Our approach was to look at the needy students, the students who would otherwise not go to school. Our concept was to reach the vulnerable, to bring the school as close to the doorstep of the learners as possible and to make sure that, those schools were of high quality. That is why, we put in the labs, that is why we stocked the libraries, that is why we set up proper offices for the headmasters and teachers. They were all very important,
“Our position on free SHS has been very clear. We started the progressively free education. We were doing progressively free because, to operate it on a full scale at once was going to be highly problematic. We want them to come and learn, but they need the classroom, the laboratories and so on.”
Chronicling the feet attained by the NDC, Prof. Opoku-Agyemang posited that the NDC government expanded 125 schools and selected some 175 other schools for a programme, aimed at improving upon the quality of education.
In furtherance, she mentioned that the government at the time introduced an intervention programme after a review was made to address a challenge that, some schools were performing poorly in specific subjects.
“We expanded 125 schools. We have the list and all the items we put there. Washrooms, laboratories, dinning and so on. We also picked another 175 for what we call the quality improvement. We started (free SHS), but we didn’t think that we should just go ahead and do en masse,”
In what seemed like a revelation, Prof. Opoku-Agyemang noted that she was surprised that many people who voted for the New Patriotic Party (NPP) showed signs of regret almost immediately after the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government left office. Stating that, same feeling of regret was noticed when the NDC was consulting broadly in putting together its election 2020 manifesto.
She, however, insisted that many Ghanaians wanted the NDC government to return to power. “Why is it that, too soon after we lost, people were running back, the same people who voted against us. It was too early, I thought it would be about two or three years before they even remember we existed. We got that feeling even when we were doing our manifesto,” she opined.
Riding on the principle of a potential win, the former Education Minister intimated that the NDC has superior records in governance.
In her partying shot, she said that Ghanaians should have hope in the NDC, adding that she is confident of victory in the December 7, 2020 polls.