Vice-President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has thrown a challenge to former President John Mahama to come up with a better alternative to the double-track system being used in implementing the free senior high school (SHS) policy.
Using the rotational church service system to support his argument, the Vice-President asked if a church would drive away the excess congregation if there were not enough chairs to accommodate all of them at a go.
“If you have a church and you have more and more people coming to your church but you do not have enough seats in the church, do you drive them away?” he asked.
“You do first, second and third service if you need to do it. You do not say: ‘Go home until I build another church before you come to church’ and, so, this is the thinking behind the double-track system. We will double-track until we complete the construction of all the facilities and we are going to complete the facilities,” Dr Bawumia emphasised.
“It is, therefore, interesting to hear former President Mahama say yesterday that now he is committed to free SHS education but he says he will review it when he comes. You have been criticising this policy since 2012 but as of today [August 15, 2019] he is not able to tell us exactly what he will do,” Dr Bawumia said.
Speaking at a ceremony to inaugurate a $4.5-million fertiliser blending plant on Thursday, 15 August 2019 under the government’s One District-One Factory (1D1F) policy at Asuboi in the Ayensuano District of the Eastern Region, Dr Bawumia said: “It does take vision to transform an economy and a country.”
He said the vision and the bold step taken by President Akufo-Addo to implement the free SHS as well as the 1D1F was a demonstration of leadership.
According to him, former President Mahama “should come out and tell us exactly what he will do because the visionary President Akufo-Addo said he will do it and he has done it.”
Former President Mahama, in Dr Bawumia’s view, is "clueless and had not told us what he will do because I know he does not know what he will do, that is the simple answer."
“I am 100 per cent certain that if John Mahama were in office today, Ghana will not have free SHS, neither will we have the teacher trainee allowance, nurse allowance, the paperless port and also the 1D1F. It takes visionary leadership and courage and this is what we are seeing with President Akufo Addo."
"If he [Mr Mahama] had been in the position, what will he do? What are your concrete policies? Don’t tell me you want to wait and be voted and you call a stakeholders’ meeting; that is not leadership. Tell us exactly what you will do."
He said the same vision by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, which led to the construction of 181 factories across the country, was the same vision which propelled the beginning of the free SHS policy.
He said if President Akufo-Addo had not forecast to start the 1D1F, there would not have been a number of factories which are now creating jobs.
“It is the same vision that President Akufo-Addo had when he said we are going to do Free SHS in this country. There were many naysayers when we said we will do free SHS including the former President who said it was a gimmick, a misplaced priority at the time.
“Some even said it will take 20 years to do free SHS but President Akufo-Addo had a vision and he persisted with that vision against all the naysayers and he implemented the free SHS education in his very first year of government,” he said
Today, Dr Bawumia said, thanks to the introduction of the free SHS, an additional 180,000 students have had the opportunity to be in school and by the end of September, all the three streams of SHS will be benefiting from free SHS education.
Throwing more light on the rationale for the introduction of the free SHS, Dr Bawumia said: “We had a choice and that was either we continue letting our children stay at home or we maximise the use of existing facilities while we bring in new ones.”