09.03.2020 Feature Article

Free SHS Is Changing Lives Indeed!

Free SHS Is Changing Lives Indeed!
LISTEN MAR 9, 2020

I was not able to watch the 63rd Independence Day celebrations from the Garden City because I had taken my students on a field trip to the Akosombo Dam. One thing I gathered from the trip was the importance of education. But for education, how could the engineers and other technicians have dreamt of generating electricity from water?

Upon my arrival back home, I watched excerpts of the celebrations and could not help but admire the spectacle on display. What, however, moved me was the speech by the special guest of honour, Dr. Keith Christopher Rowley, Prime Minister of Trinidad & Tobago. His speech and the field trip to Akosombo have colluded to inspire the topic for today’s piece.

Please listen to him, “I come from a family of six (6) boys. I am the last of the six. Five boys never went to high school. My sister and I went to high school because Dr. Eric Williams (1st Prime Minister of Trinidad & Tobago), a name that you are familiar with, did what your President (Akufo-Addo) has just done in 1962. He brought Free Secondary Education to us, and that singular opportunity produced from this family, a Prime Minister, the first person in the family to go to High School, and my sister, the second person (to go to High School), she became an administrator in public service. So, tonight, I will like to congratulate you for joining us in Trinidad and Tobago in contributing to this vision of what we can be once the opportunities are there.”

Obviously, but for the Free Secondary Education policy in 1962 by Dr. Eric Williams, the current Prime Minister of Trinidad & Tobago would have been a school dropout and a liability to his family and country. Indeed, the Bearded Old Man alone knows the thousands of his kind that have been saved by the visionary and bold leadership of Dr. Eric Williams.

Back home in Asomdwekrom, President Nana Dee is also shaping the destiny of thousands of students who otherwise would have become school dropouts and a burden on society. The obvious truth is that the real impact of the Free SHS policy will not be felt now. It will take years for the country to really appreciate the real impact of the policy on families, communities and the country in general.

Personally, I’ve seen many students whose destinies have been changed by the Free SHS policy. Three nieces currently in senior high school would otherwise have been selling ‘fula’ if the policy had not been implemented. So Free SHS is about real impact, and not the usual NDC-NPP politics.

As I was gathering my thoughts to write this piece, I chanced upon a narration about a Form One Student on Hon. Rodney Nkrumah-Boateng’s Facebook wall and I would love to share it with you.

The young Form One student at OWASS was born disabled. Their father bolted after his mother had another disabled child. The mother who sold tomatoes on a table in Aburaso in the Atwima Kwanwoma District of the Ashanti Region struggled to bring up her children all by herself. The boy had aggregate 8 at last year’s BECE and was placed in his first choice school, OWASS.

His best friend, who had been wheeling him around for many years, also gained admission in the same school. He continues to wheel him dutifully on campus; and on Saturday, March 7, 2020, he honourably wheeled him down the red carpet to see the President. Clearly, but for the Free SHS policy, this boy’s dreams would have fizzled into thin air because there was no way his mother could have afforded his admission fee and subsequent fees.

An old student (Katakyie) in the US donated a new wheelchair and an amount of GH¢1000 to the boy when he heard his story, and it was presented by the President on behalf of the said Katakyie. The mother could not hold back her tears and every single person in the quadrangle was moved. The President gave him a few private words of encouragement and he and his teary mother expressed their appreciation to him for the policy.

Stories of this nature abound across the length and breadth of this country. The Free SHS policy is touching many lives in a very positive way. That is the unadulterated truth and no amount of propaganda or ‘skin pain’ can change that fact.

Yes, the policy is facing challenges. I agree the double track is not the best of systems; but are we not seeing a massive infrastructural boost on the various high school campuses in the bid to return to single track? Show me a single policy in this world that has not encountered challenges and I would prove to you that Donald Trump is an Arab.

Indeed, the real stories will be told when the beneficiaries become presidents, ministers of state, Members of Parliament, doctors, teachers, lawyers, nurses, artisans, musicians, etc. Like the current Prime Minister of Trinidad & Tobago, they would recount how the visionary Nana Dee made their dreams become a reality. If you have ever doubted the impact of the policy on students and families, then ask yourself why those who vehemently opposed the policy are now claiming to be the originators? Think!!!

See you next week for another interesting konkonsa, Deo volente!

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