FRESH day students, who would be entering Senior High School in September, 2017, would not only be the first beneficiaries of the full implementation of the much-touted free SHS policy but also have a rare opportunity to have a free meal at school each day.
“By free SHS, we mean that in addition to tuition which is already free, there would be no admission fees, no library fees, no science center fees, no computer lab fees, no examination fees, no utility fees. There would be free text books, free boarding and free meals and day students would get a meal at school for free”, the President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has stated .
The President made the declaration at the 60th Anniversary celebration of the Okuapeman Senior High School of in Akropong Akuapem last Saturday.
The roll out the Free SHS policy would be in fulfillment of proposals made by the New Patriotic Party in 2008, 2012 and 2016 elections for all of Ghana’s children to attend public senior high school for free.
The government of Ghana will fund the cost of public senior high school for all those who qualify for entry from the 2017, 2018 academic year onwards.
The Free SHS policy according to the president would also cover agricultural, vocational and technical institutions at the high school levels.
Strategic industries with Private Sector
Furthermore, he said, the government is ready to partner the private sector to set up strategic industries to help create jobs for the youth and aid the transformation agenda of the Ghanaian the economy as a whole.
These, he said, would include an iron and steel industry which would exploit iron deposits near Tamale and facilitate the manufacturing of machines parts and equipment.
He also mentioned the establishment of an integrated aluminum industry, which would which would exploit the bauxite deposit at Kyebi in addition to Petrochemical industries from the oil and gas deposits from the Jubilee, TEN and Sankorfa Fields and vehicle assembling plants.
He noted that 60 years after independence, the progress Ghana has made over the period, has been slower than it should have been.
“It is time to take the bold moves that would enable us to make rapid progress to transform or economy and the lives of Ghanaians.
According to the President, a society that aims to transform itself into a modern and productive player in the global market needs an educated work force by getting its educational policies right .
He reiterated that model societies that have made rapid progress around the world have all made education a pivotal element in their development making particular reference to the Singapore success story.
Singapore, at a point in its developmental journey, he said, imported most of her food, water and energy but emphasised that its leaders chose the path of education as the focus of all its developmental efforts .
“Today, Singapore is widely acknowledged as having one of the world’s leading economies and most advanced and successful education systems .in a country with no natural resources, this is a remarkable feat”.
He noted further that Ghana unlike Singapore is blessed with numerous natural resources and with the right policy choices; it should be easier for Ghana to educate its population and achieve greater feats in her pursuit for development.
He noted that one major theme that has remained dominant across all the various political parties in the past three elections, has been the consensus the economy of Ghana has to be transformed to make it a high income economy where graduates from the various educational institutions enter the labour market well equipped with skills for well paying jobs.
“To do this out country must move from an economy dependent on the export of raw materials to an economy of value addition. We must process the natural resources we have to enable us reap higher benefits “
Oil and mineral wealth to fund education
For this reason he said his government has made a firm decision to make education its topmost priority and for which proceeds from the natural resources must be committed to make it a reality.
“Instead of the revenues from our oil and mineral resources ending up in the hands of a few people I am of the firm belief that the most equitable and progressive way of using these revenues is to educate and empower our population “
He bemoaned a disturbing phenomenon where some Ghanaian children still never make it to the classroom “that is something that cannot and should not continue”, he stressed.
Keeping the Okuapeman dream alive
The President paid a glowing tribute to the founding fathers, past and present students of Okuapeman Senior High School for living keeping the dream of the institution alive.
“I think we can safely say that the school has delivered on its promises in every sector of our national life past students of Okuapeman continue to make their mark and play significant role in the development of our country“.
The theme for the celebration: ‘One Vision Many Lives’ he said rightly reflects most appropriately with Ghana’s current circumstances.