Former and Deputy Education Minister clash over Free SHS numbers

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The Member of Parliament for Bosomtwe Constituency has denied reports by members of the opposition NDC party, particular from the former Education Minister, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa claiming the Akufo-Addo government has failed in terms of enrolment despite his Free Senior High School (Free SHS) policy.

The Deputy Education Minister, Osei Adutwum in an interview on Okay FM’s ‘Ade Akye Abia’ morning show said: “many different factors such as the inclusion of re-sit candidates in the total number of people sitting for the WASSCE do not make the number accurate to determine the level of school enrolment for an academic year”.

According to him, the allegations from some groups and the opposition NDC party are based on wrong assumptions that the number of candidates sitting for the WASSCE for School Candidates is contrary to the total number of students enrolled.

“If you use the WAEC data, you are making a huge mistake about enrolment . . . Ablakwa fell into the same trap using WAEC data as the enrolment data. Up until now, WAEC data were not about the enrolment of students into school because students were allowed to re-sit in their public schools. You risk double counting if you use WAEC data in counting enrolment in SHS,” he said.

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Dr Yaw Adutwum said until the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) provides the bio-data of all candidates with no duplicate names, the actual number of school enrolments will have to be taken from a different source.

Mr. Ablakwa on Monday, July 20, 2020, took to social media to make posts that indicated that despite the government’s claims of increasing enrolment through Free SHS, the number of students who have sat for the WASSCE during the tenure of former President John Mahama far exceeds the number of students coming out as the first graduates from the Free SHS programme.

“Unimpeachable statistics from the West African Examination Council (WAEC) reveal that in 2012, a total of 174,461 candidates sat for the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE). This figure impressively shot up during the tenure of President John Mahama to 274,262 candidates who sat for the 2016 WASSCE. This represents an actual increment of a staggering 99,801. That is by some 57.2% over the period.”

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“Therefore, in four years – President Mahama increased WASSCE candidates by 99,801 while President Akufo-Addo has increased the same by only 39,575,” he added.

The former Education Minister, Mr Ablakwa despite the explanation by the Deputy Minister for Education insisted that the number of candidates sitting the WASSCE still give some relevant information on the success or otherwise of the government’s Free SHS programme.

He said the numbers still demonstrate that the government’s “huff and puff about the free SHS have not resulted in increased enrolment” as much as John Mahama achieved without free SHS.

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