Education think tank, Africa Education Watch believes the president, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has misconstrued the calls for a review of the government’s Free Senior High School (SHS) policy.
The group insists that its concerns with the programme relate to financial inefficiencies which threaten to costain the country’s basic educational system and not about quality or access.
The President, in a response to some complaints about the government’s implementation of the programme, defended the policy, while dismissing the discussions as a campaign against free SHS.
Nana Akufo-Addo also accused an unnamed radio station of waging a campaign against his administration’s flagship Free SHS program.
But the Executive Secretary of Africa Education Watch, Kofi Asare who is one of the proponents of the need for a review of the program, tells Citi News that the President got it wrong.
“If the President says that teachers who are teaching in the schools have no legitimate concerns about the policy, then I think it’s unfortunate. So far as we are concerned, we haven’t raised issues about quality or access.”
“The Issues we are raising relate to the operational dynamics of the program and how financial inefficiencies are depriving basic education of the needed resources to improve same. We just need to take a second look at the operational dynamics of the policy because if it is not efficient, what happens is that, it constricts basic education,” Kofi Asare said.
The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) has also criticised the President for saying a discussion on the challenges facing the Free Senior High School (SHS) policy, is a campaign against the policy.
While reacting to the President’s position on the growing concern of “culture of silence”, the Executive Director of the Media Foundation for West Africa, Sulemana Briamah said the President’s comment was disturbing as it did not encourage media houses to freely discuss government policy.
“If a media house is discussing a policy initiative of the government and the President says that amounts to a waging a campaign against the policy, what then happens is that other media houses are going to be silent, those who wouldn’t be silent may have to embrace the policy and find voices of support and endorsement and a chorus of praise-singing. I think this doesn’t help especially when it comes from no less a person than the President himself. I think this is unfortunate.”
President Akufo-Addo, however, said his government would be within its rights to challenge the assertions made by some media houses.
“A radio station is currently running a campaign against Free SHS. Would a spirited defence of the Free SHS policy constitute an attack on press freedom? I wonder.”