The 2020 Vice Presidential candidate for the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang has bemoaned the government’s approach to dealing with the challenges of the Free SHS programme.
Speaking to Eric Ahianyo on the Morning Update on TV XYZ, the former Minister for Education noted she had no choice than to sympathize with the students whose education is being toyed with because of the poor implementation of the pro poor policy.
Her worry comes after the government put in place a double track to manage the population of various schools that admitted more than their capacity.
Currently, some first year students who were admitted in February are on vacation for about 90 days. They are expected to write their end of semester exam when they reopen school.
The lack of infrastructure in various senior high schools which forced the Akufo-Addo government to introduce the double track has been a major concern to many parents in recent times.
Prof. Opoku-Agyemang, who said she had been receiving calls from frustrated parents, described the situation as a “disturbing phenomenon.”
“I want to begin by expressing sympathy; to sympathize with the students, especially when they say ‘we are not learning anything.’.. we all have children in our families, in our communities and when they seem to be saying the same thing then it’s disturbing,” the former Education Minister said.
She also sympathized with the teachers and mangers of the government second cycle institutions.
She also lamented the culture of silence that has taken centre stage in various schools, preventing headmasters from speaking about the challenges of the Free SHS.
In her sestimation, the government has to lay down a channel to receive complains from parents and school managers and deal with them rather than painting a picture that depicts all is well with the Free SHS programme.
Confirming the concerns from worried teachers and parents, Prof. Opoku-Agyemang said, “I have picked from many, I’ve picked from students, I’ve picked from parents, I’ve picked from people in the Ministry [of Education] and outside the ministry. they have many stories to tell. And their major concern is that we can’t speak.”
She continued, “So when they come and give me all these litany of complains, my question to them is, but you have your boss; you have your committees, that’s a proper channel [so] why don’t you send all these concerns there so they will reach where they need to reach? [and] they say ‘we don’t even know who to trust, we don’t know who is listening to you and before you know they’ve transferred you’ and I find that very, very unnecessary.”
Asked whether the government has to meet stakeholders to tackle the challenges confronting the government’s flagship programme, she said it was good that some of the stakeholders are talking about the challenges and calling for review of the policy.
However, she stated, “If government keeps insisting that they don’t have a problem, then the calls for review may not end where it should be.”