The District Chief Executive (DCE) of Ellembelle in the Western Region, Mr Kwasi Bonzoh says former President John Mahama should wait after twenty years before he can dream of ever coming back to review President Akufo-Addo's Free SHS programme.
Former President John Mahama who is the Presidential candidate of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has openly said he will review the Free SHS policy and abolish its Double Track System completely should he win the 2020 elections.
Mr Mahama first made this assurance last year in Cape Coast North Constituency in the Central Region during a tour before the party's presidential primaries.
He told his party's faithfuls that the policy was ill-timed.
Mahama has since been criticising the Akufo-Addo's government on the policy and opined that the policy is struggling because government has failed to assemble experts and stakeholders for a national conference on education to deliberate on the policy.
The former president said evidence of the ill-planned free SHS policy is seen in the challenges of overcrowding which it faces.
"Our NPP friends, they don't listen to advice, they think they know everything," he criticised.
According to him, the previous National Democratic Congress (NDC) government set up the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFUND) in 2000 to provide funding for educational infrastructure and scholarships to needy but brilliant students.
But speaking to the media over the weekend after the sod cutting ceremony for the construction of a 12-unit classroom block for the Nkroful Agricultural Senior SHS to provide enough space for the school to enroll more students, the DCE expressed his disappointment in the former President's comment of reviewing the Free SHS policy if he is ever elected again in 2020.
The DCE called on Ghanaians not to take the former President's comment 'serious' adding that the former President and his NDC members were already against the Free SHS 2016 campaign even before its implementation.
He said the NDC in 2012 and 2016 labeled Nana Addo as a 'liar' and said the Free SHS would be possible in 20 years time.
"These NDC members at the time labeled President Akufo-Addo the then presidential candidate of the NPP as a liar who went on to state that Free SHS could only be possible in 20 years time so today if same people come out to condemn this very laudable policy then we have to be careful about them because they have track record of collapsing social intervention policies, just look at what they did to the National Health Insurance", he stressed.
He added that "I want to tell former President John Mahama that the Free SHS programme has come to stay so he should wait after thirty years time before coming to be the President again in Ghana and use his tenure to review it but for now majority of Ghanaians have embraced the program and some politicians are saying it that when they come to power they will cancel it, they should come and cancel it, we are waiting for them to come and cancel it".
He urges parents and students to embrace the Free SHS programme adding that the Free SHS programme has come to stay.
The DCE noted that since the inspection of the Free SHS programme enrollment has been increased significantly.
"Since the inspection of Free SHS policy by the President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and his administration of which I represent in this District, we have, have the numbers increased beyond our expectation, this has come as a result of government taken over the full cost of admission, tuition, boarding and lodging frees of students since 2017-2018 and 2019 academic year", he explained to the gathering."
The Free SHS policy is the single-largest social intervention and as a government we are very proud to be first government to have boldly implemented this policy. The record is there for us to see, obviously, if it is not because of the Free SHS programme like most of you students here will not be in school to witness this sod cutting ceremony", he told the students.
He emphasised that "...and as a result of the policy it has brought shortage of academic facilities thus residential accommodation and classroom accommodation and some people said we should wait and build the classroom blocks before the Free SHS, we believe that the two can go together so we have started it and today we are here cutting a sod for the construction of a 12-unit classroom block for NASS".
The DCE said the Double Track System is being implemented to solve the problem of classroom accommodation adding that this facility will abolish the Double Track System in the school.
"This government will continue to work assiduously to provide the critical infrastructure that needed in our schools not only in Nkroful Agriculture SHS. Recently the GETFund secured a lot of money to build these blocks all over the country and we are going to continue to make sure that every SHS, every Technical School, every school in this country that needs infrastructure to train our kids gets it so that we give full meaning to the Free SHS", he stressed.
He advises students to take their studies seriously since they are the future leaders of this country.