On 07 June 2021, the USA Elephants in Ghana (USAEG) issued a statement in response to Prof. Naana Jane Opoku Agyemang’s candid take on the ongoing problems facing the Ghana educational system under President Akuffo-Addo. We find the said statement by USAEG to be mind-boggling and preposterous, to say the least, as it is full of factual inaccuracies as well as unfortunate, misleading, and mischievous remarks about the person and views of the learned Prof. Opoku Agyemang.
We therefore want to put records straight as follows:
- To start with, it appears the members of USA Elephants in Ghana were probably absent minded when Prof. Opoku Agyemang granted that interview to the XZY TV. As an astute Educationist, a former Minister of Education and running mate to HE John Dramani Mahama (JDM), Prof. Naana Jane Opoku Agyemang knows exactly what she was talking about with respect to the abysmally implemented Free SHS (fSHS) by the governing NPP party. This fire-fighting approach adopted by the Akuffo-Addo-led government to the running of the fSHS policy is very worrying to Ghanaians particularly parents and students for obvious reasons. It is thus a palpable falsehood and dishonesty on the part of USAEG to impugn the integrity of the learned Prof. Opoku Agyemang for speaking nothing but the truth on the matter. Alternative suggestions on how to properly implement fSHS programme were loudly expressed by HE JDM and the NDC to solving the NPP’s self-inflicted problems of the fSHS. It cannot therefore be true for USAEG to suggest that no alternative views were offered by Prof. Opoku Agyemang. Under the leadership of Prof. Opoku Agyemang, teacher absenteeism was drastically reduced, free speech in schools enhanced, etc as opposed to what is happening now in our various secondary schools.
- Secondly, it must be made clear that the current educational system is being endangered if not destroyed in terms of quality by this government. If not because of the impressive school infrastructure built by HE JDM and NDC, the fSHS program could not have kick-started in the first place. Rhetorically, how do you think of increasing access to education when the space to accommodate the students are non-existent or woefully inadequate? The NDC government better managed Ghana's educational system under HE JDM by implementing a progressively fSHS program, among others, than what is happening now. The claim of cancellation of Teacher Trainee allowances by HE JDM and NDC was done with good intentions. This allows for creating more job opportunities for new teachers and nurses to gainfully be employed after completion. However, this was misconstrued by the voting public, and HE JDM and NDC suffered dearly for it in the 2016 General elections. What sense does it make to complete school and no work available to apply your acquired skills? Unfortunately, under the Akuffo-Addo-led government, teachers and nurses no longer gain automatic employment after graduation but rather do national service. The teaming Ghanaian youth deserve better treatment than what is going on with our educational system under Nana Akuffo-Addo!
- Thirdly, apart from the poor management of our educational system, the country is experiencing enormous economic mismanagement, youth unemployment, injustice, and a high tendency of state capture due to the abysmal performance of this current government. Instead, it is a patriotic duty for citizens to speak about these societal ills to be addressed timeously to not trigger extremism in the country. Therefore, although the fSHS is an essential educational program for the teaming Ghanaian youth, we must point out mismanagement of the policy for immediate redress.
- Furthermore, the members of USAEG are simply majoring in the minors by indicating that Dr. Adutwum took a phone number from a Reporter to engage him later. This is an inconsistent submission. Since the implementation of the fSHS policy in 2017, why is it that the government is so reluctant or impervious to suggestions to review the current state of the fSHS policy with critical stakeholders? Is there something to hide? It is clear Akuffo-Addo, and his government is averse to genuine criticisms. For the good of our country, a blueprint for the fSHS policy should be developed by Dr. Adutwum and his team for a proper public discourse and instead stop celebrating mediocrity in implementing the fSHS program. As Prof. Opoku Agyemang rightly said, Dr. Adutwum and, for that matter, the government must admit that there is a problem with the fSHS program and seek constructive opinions on how to fix it. The sustainability of the fSHS policy is indeed in question, as the government is heavily dependent on borrowing to fund the fSHS coupled with unsustainable wholesale free funding idea and poor feeding of students, and rampant exam leakages for the first batch of fSHS graduates.
In conclusion, people with good judgment in the country and beyond are in sync with what the good Prof. Naana Jane Opoku Agyemang has expressed. It will be in the interest of Akuffo-Addo and his government to listen to Ghanaians' cries and immediately address the prevailing disturbing economic mismanagement/corruption, youth unemployment, injustice, high tendency of state capture and deficit in the school infrastructure, and double track issues of the fSHS policy. The prevailing culture of silence, the politicization of state institutions, and name-calling are not the way to go. Instead, broadened citizen engagements should be encouraged for sustainable nation-building. The country indeed needs FIXING; so, let's FIX it!
NDC Germany Dachverband e.V