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Free SHS is working, says President Akufo-Addo

President Akufo-Addo speaks on Free SHS at Tamaso

President Akufo-Addo addressing the 70th-anniversary ceremony of the Great Tamasco in Tamale

President Akufo-Addo has put up a spirited defence of one his government’s flagship programmes, Free Senior High School, arguing that the Free SHS policy is working.

Addressing a ceremony in Tamale to mark the 70th anniversary of Tamale Senior High School (Tamasco) on 11 December 2021 under the theme “Tamasco at 70: Leading Secondary Education in Northern Ghana”, President Akufo-Addo said: “Five years on, following the implementation of the Free Senior High School policy, which has granted a minimum of senior high school education for 1.6 million Ghanaian children, I can comfortably state without any equivocation that I am very proud of the policy and of its results thus far.

“Yes, there have been challenges associated with this policy, [and the] government has addressed a substantial many of them,” the president said.

Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia, a former Tamasco student, arrives on campus for the celebration

“A look at the WASSCE results of the first batch of Free SHS graduates, who I choose to call the ‘Akufo-Addo graduates’, and that of those whose results has just been released gives further evidence of why the Free SHS policy has been a success so far,” the president said.

Free SHS/WASSCE results

Citing the 2021 WASSCE results and comparing these to the results in 2016, the president justified all the more his argument that the Free SHS programme is a success.

“The WASSCE results of the second batch of ‘Akufo-Addo graduates’ shows 54.0% of students recording A1 to C6 in English as opposed to 51.6% in 2016; 65.7% recording A1 to C6 in integrated science in 2021 as opposed to 48.35% in 2016; 54.11% recording A1 to C6 in mathematics as compared to 33.12% in 2016; and 66.03% recording A1 to C6 in social science studies as opposed to 54.5% in 2016,” he declared.

“Lest we forget, the 2021 batch of students were the pioneers of the double-track system, which elicited a lot of vilification and unfounded criticism of its introduction. Indeed, it was here in Tamasco in 2018 that I announced the introduction of the double-track policy,” the president recalled.

Tamasco’s performance

President Akufo-Addi continued, “Yet another indication of the value of the policy is the dramatic increase in the percentage of students from this school [Tamasco], who have qualified to attend university.

President Akufo-Addo chats with Vice-President Bawumia at the celebration

“In 2015 it was 29.2%. In 2016 it was 31.4%. In 2017 it was 34.7%. In 2018, it was 31.3%. In 2019 it was 46.3% and in 2020 45.8%.”

The president further said, “Surely, chairperson, there can no longer be any controversy about the value victory of the Free SHS policy and its consequential measures. It is working!”

“Let us forgo partisan, parochial considerations which contrive [to give] little benefit and all agree that Free SHS has to be a part of our national educational architecture for at least a generation, if not for ever. Our nation will clearly be empowered and enriched,” President Akufo-Addo urged.

Example of teachers and parents

In his address the president called on teachers in all secondary schools in Ghana to set examples worthy of emulation by the students in their care.

“Teachers must also bear in mind that they are role models for students and they set the bar for excellence. They must therefore project excellence to their students,” President Akufo-Addo said.

“Parents and guardians, too, have a responsibility to advise their wards to exhibit good behaviour in school or wherever they may be. They are partners with the school in educating their children,” the president said.

Tamasco

Tamale Senior High School – formerly Government Secondary School, Tamale, Gbewaa Secondary School and, more recently, Tamale Secondary School – is a co-educational second-cycle boarding school.

It is located at Education Ridge, a suburb of the Sagnarigu Municipality (which was carved out of the Tamale Metropolis in 2012) in the Northern Region of Ghana.

The school was founded in 1951 by the British colonial authorities as the first second- cycle institution in the area then known as the Northern Territories.

A cross-section of students of Tamasco during the celebration

Courses offered by the school include business, general science, home economics, technical training, general arts and visual arts.

Tamale Senior High School is considered to be one of the most prestigious secondary institutions in Ghana, given its prominent alumni and its long-standing history pre-dating independence in Ghana.

The school can count among its ranks one head of state, two vice-presidents of the Fourth Republic, a Speaker of Parliament, two justices of the Supreme Court of Ghana, two chiefs of defence staff, and a host of government ministers and MPs.

Wilberforce Asare

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