President John Mahama has announced the abolishing of fees in Day Senior High Schools by 2015/1016 academic year. The measure, he said is in accordance with his government’s plan to progressively introduce free senior high education in the country. He was delivering his second State of the Nation Address to Parliament Tuesday. The address was initially scheduled to be delivered last Thursday but was postponed to today. The announcement of the plans to abolish fees at senior high schools attracted loud cheers and jeers in equal measure from both sides of the House.
Minority Members of the House jeered while the Majority side cheered the president on. Free SHS was the signature campaign promise of the Presidential Candidate of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in the 2012 presidential election. The promise was viscerally attacked by the governing National Democratic Congress as unrealistic and deceptive and designed to win votes. The President in response to the NPP’s campaign said he would build 200 community-based day senior high schools and improve access to secondary education. After that, he promised, government would make secondary school education progressively free.
Addressing Parliament Tuesday, February 25, 2014, the President said the Ministry of Education had “prepared a roadmap for the progressive introduction of free secondary education in Ghana as required by constitution.” It would cost 71 million cedis annually to implement the policy, he added. Touching on the promise to build 200 day schools (50 every year starting from 2013), Mr. Mahama said the project on track even it has been delayed for a year.
He said architectural designs for the schools had been completed and sites for the projects identified. “Procurement ongoing for the construction of the schools,” the president stated. “Join me to break ground for the commencement of construction on 3rd March,” he teasingly invited the Minority MPs who had been yelling when said the project could not start in 2013 as originally planned because of the detailed work required before the start of work.
The delivery of the address itself was punctuated by intermittent jokes by the President himself. A former MP (for Bole-Bamboi) himself, President Mahama repeated shouted 'Order! to quieten especially the Minority side of the House. He got everybody laughing when he used the popular slang 'Tweaaaa'. "Keep quiet and listen, I'm not your co-equal," he told a distracting MP, provoking loud laughter.