The flagbearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Mr John Dramani Mahama, has said he will, within one year in office, eliminate the double-track system that has plagued the smooth implementation of the free SHS Programme.

To achieve his target, the former President said his next government, should he win the 7 December polls, will embark on a fast-track programme to complete the abandoned Community Day Schools, expand infrastructure in existing schools, and include private schools in the free SHS programme.

Addressing a community durbar of chiefs and farmers at Fawohoyeden in the Asunafo North district of the Ahafo Region, Mr Mahama said he has always stood for quality free SHS.

According to him, claims that he would cancel the free SHS programme is false, noting that he started the programme with day students during his administration.

While acknowledging that Ghana during the NDC era was not heaven, President Mahama maintained that the NDC has a better record than the NPP, explaining that today, everyone is suffering and can hardly make ends meet.

“These days nothing works. Whether as a farmer, trader, driver or mechanic, the hardship is unbearable everywhere,” he bemoaned, adding “we have to go back for the NDC and I know that by God’s grace, we shall be victorious.”

He announced to the farming community that when he wins the December 2020 elections, his government will reintroduce the free cocoa fertiliser intervention that was aborted by the NPP, to bring relief to cocoa farmers.

He also outlined a number of policies contained in the NDC 2020 People’s Manifesto, including the Free Primary Health Care Plan, Free Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and the Free Apprenticeship Programme.

However, Vice-President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, a few weeks ago, said Mr Mahama cannot be trusted with the free SHS programme because he had once said he would not spend GHS2 billion on it if he had that money, Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has said.

Furthermore, he said for a President who cancelled the allowances for teacher and nurse trainees as well as that of Arabic teachers while in office, the flagbearer of the biggest opposition party will surely cancel the free SHS initiative should he win the 7 December 2020 polls.

“We [NPP] are a government that is thinking about the people, the poverty of our people and to bring in policies that will uplift our people from poverty”, Dr Bawumia told the people of Saboba in the Northern Region where he has been touring.

“And that is why”, he noted, President Nana Akufo-Addo, when he was a candidate, “said he was going to build a Ghana that was going to be inclusive of everybody – north, south, east and west.”

“We’re building a government with policies that will include everybody. He said he was going to bring free SHS.

“The NDC said he couldn’t do it, they said it was 419, it wouldn’t happen”, he recalled.

Mr Mahama, as President, Dr Bawumia noted, “said if he had GHS2 billion, he would not spend it on free SHS. He said it; that if he had GHS2 billion, he will not spend it on Free SHS”.

“But Nana Akufo-Addo said the education of our children is paramount”, and, so, “If you understand the north, and you want to uplift the people of the north from poverty, the people of Ghana from poverty, the best way is through education, education and education”.

“That is the best way and, so, if we have to spend GHS2 billion, we will spend GHS2 billion so that our children can go to senior high school free. “And, today, by the grace of God, our children are going to free SHS and free TVET”, Dr Bawumia said.

“Today, John Mahama says he wants to come back. Can we trust him with free SHS?” he asked the people.

“The person who said it wouldn’t work, that we can’t do it; you cannot trust him with free SHS. The only person you can trust is Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. He dreamt it, he visioned it, and he made it happen”, the Vice President said.

According to him, “When we gave John Mahama the chance, what did he do to teacher trainee allowance? He cancelled it. We gave him the chance, what did he do to nurse trainee allowance? He cancelled it. What did he do to Arabic teachers allowance? He cancelled it. So, what will he do to free SHS? He will cancel it”.