He said the policy was, without doubt, one of the bravest decisions taken by any government in the country’s history with life-changing ramifications for all Ghanaian families, decades into the future.
However, he said, the tenor of discussions on its implementation has been troubling in recent times and “appealed to all to lower the temperature and ensure that public discourse on this critical issue is carried with more light than heat”.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu made the appeal at the 56th annual conference of the Conference of Heads of Secondary Schools (CHASS) in Kumasi, on Wednesday.
The week-long conference is being held under the theme: “Free senior high school education in Ghana: the role of stakeholders”.
The Asantehene said the massive votes won by the present government in the 2016 elections is an indication that the electorate wanted the free senior high school policy, which was the primary campaign message of the then opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP).
The onus, therefore, was on government to deliver on this promise as mandated by the people, he said.
“All good citizens should feel an obligation to cooperate or at the very least not to frustrate the authorities in the implementation of the legitimate mandate of the people”, the Asantehene said.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu, however, called on the government not to take its mandate for granted but to create the right environment for co-operation by seriously engaging all stakeholders in the effort to evolve a system that minimizes the challenges and reduces the risk of unacceptable decline in the quality of teaching and learning.
“It is in the best interest of the government for the collective brain power available on all sides to be applied in a genuine effort to find the best way of implementing the mandate of the electorate”, he said.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu called on the headmasters who had the direct responsibility for giving effect to the implementation of the policy, to focus their deliberations on all the consequential challenges flowing from the decision.
Dr Mathew Opoku Prempeh, Minister for Education, in an address read for on his behalf, said Ghana cannot continue to allow a significant section of its young citizens to be condemned to a life of hopelessness and despair.
He said in addition to the implementation of the free senior high school policy, government was introducing various reforms to ensure quality education outcomes at the pre-tertiary levels.
They include curriculum reforms, teacher training reforms, teacher professionalization, technical and vocational education reforms, investment in teaching and learning materials as well as infrastructure.
Dr Prempeh reminded the headmasters of their duty to effectively manage and supervise their schools to focus on teaching and learning outcomes while making judicious use of the resources allocated to them.
Mr Victor Yanney, National President of CHASS, said delays in the release of funds, supply of food items and other educational materials as some of the challenges facing second cycle education.
He urged all stakeholders to get their acts together on time to ensure the successful implementation of the free senior high school policy.
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