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‘Why fight over Free SHS when we know who introduced it?’ – Prof Agyekum

Professor Opanyin Kofi Agyekum

A linguistics professor at the University of Ghana, Professor ‘Opanyin’ Kofi Agyekum, has waded into discussions surrounding the originator of the Free SHS policy.

This comes after former president and flagbearer of the opposition NDC, John Mahama claimed he was first to introduce the policy.

The comments by Mr Mahama has generated various reactions on social media.

Whiles a section of the public believe Mr. Mahama’s claims are true; others insist they are otherwise.

But for Professor Agyekum, he does not see why there should be a debate over who introduced the policy.

He believes every well-meaning Ghanaian knows President Akufo-Addo who is seeking re-election is the originator of the Free SHS policy.

“There is no need for time-wasting, fighting and arguing about who introduced the free senior high school (FSHS) education policy.

“It is very clear, and every Ghanaian knows it was President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo who touted it whilst seeking power and went ahead with a universal introduction when he was elected.

“If we were to hit the streets and randomly sample views, I am sure every Ghanaian will tell you it was Akufo-Addo who introduced it,” Professor Agyekum said in Twi during an interview on Accra-based Peace FM.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo had expressed shock over his opponent’s claims that he (Mahama) began the free senior high school (SHS) policy.

On a tour of some constituencies in the Upper East Region, former President John Mahama said: “we started the policy [free SHS], and the NPP came and continued it”.

But, addressing a gathering at Odorkor Wednesday, President Akufo-Addo described the statement made by former President Mahama as “something which shocked me”.

According to him, when he [Akufo-Addo) promised free SHS in the 2008, 2012 and 2016 campaigns, “they [Mr Mahama and NDC] said that I was deceiving Ghanaians, and that it was a vote-buying gimmick and that even if it would be possible, it would take about 20 years”.

“Not long ago, he [Mahama] said that if he had GH¢2 billion, he wouldn’t use it to pay school fees, but rather he would use it on something profitable. Today, he says that he introduced free SHS.”

He then asked the gathering “ are we going to allow the former President to come back to power through lies and deception?”, to which the crowd responded with a big “no”.

The closest the NDC came to implementing the free SHS policy was in 2015/2016 academic year when in it introduced the progressively free education.

Under the policy, the government paid the fees of only day students.

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