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NDC's implementation of Free SHS was superior — Jane Opoku Agyemang

Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang, running mate to John Dramani Mahama in the 2024 general elections, has asserted that the Free Senior High School (SHS) policy was more effectively implemented under the National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration.

Prof Naana Jane Opoku-Agyeman

Speaking during her visit to Akyem-Tafo in the Eastern Region, part of her tour of the Abuakwa North constituency, the former Minister of Education highlighted several aspects of the programme's execution that, in her view, demonstrate the NDC's superior handling of the initiative.

Prof. Opoku Agyemang noted that the Free SHS policy, which aims to provide free secondary education to all Ghanaian students, was initially conceptualised and partially rolled out during the NDC's tenure.

She emphasised that the NDC laid the groundwork for the policy by investing in educational infrastructure, expanding access to schools, and training teachers to handle the anticipated increase in student numbers.

She explained that "We (NDC) introduced Free SHS. It was called Progressively Free SHS because there are people who are capable of paying their children’s fees, while others cannot. So we decided to implement it holistically. We provided school bags, books, and other essentials, ensuring that there were no complaints about students going to school for four to five years without books. Our progressively free SHS was well-implemented, with no hue and cry."

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She also criticised the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government for what she described as a rushed and poorly planned rollout of the Free SHS policy. According to Prof. Opoku Agyemang, the current administration failed to adequately address the infrastructural and logistical challenges, leading to significant problems such as overcrowded classrooms, inadequate teaching materials, and double-track systems that disrupt the academic calendar.

Moreover, Prof. Opoku Agyemang highlighted the financial strain the current implementation has placed on the government's budget.

She pointed out that the NDC's phased approach was designed to ensure sustainability, allowing for gradual adjustments based on available resources and feedback from stakeholders.

She challenged the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) to provide evidence that the NDC plans to cancel the Free SHS program if voted into power.

"So, if today they claim the NDC is against Free SHS, then the person is being disingenuous. If anyone has evidence that President Mahama has said he will cancel Free SHS, they should bring the evidence. Don’t believe such people," she asserted.

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She added "Under the NDC, did you hear anything about the double track? John Dramani Mahama has stated that he will review the policy, remove double track, and make the policy better."

Prof. Opoku Agyemang also underscored the importance of stakeholder engagement in educational reform.

She claimed that the NDC administration actively involved teachers, parents, and educational experts in the planning and execution of the Free SHS policy, fostering a collaborative environment that prioritised the needs of students.

In conclusion, Prof. Jane Naana Opoku Agyemang's remarks underscore the ongoing debate over the implementation of the Free SHS policy in Ghana.

While the current administration has made significant strides in providing free education to all, the criticisms raised by the former education minister highlight the need for continuous assessment and improvement of the programme to ensure it meets its intended goals.

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As Ghana continues to invest in its educational sector, the lessons from both the NDC and NPP administrations will be invaluable in shaping the future of the country's education system.

Chief of Akyem Tafo Osabarima Adusei Peasah commended John Mahama's decision to choose a female running mate, stating that it would be a historic record in Ghana’s democracy.

The chief lauded the competence of Prof. Naana Opoku Agyemang and expressed that Ghana is looking forward to her becoming the first female vice President.

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