Free SHS: The Greatest Gift To A Generation

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Free Shs
Free Shs

As my Alma Mater, Akosombo International School (AIS) celebrates its 60th anniversary in the coming days, I cannot help but take stock of the impact education has contributed to myself and the many Alumni that would gather on the Campus of AIS in the Township of Akosombo from the weekend of October 28th-30th In This Year of Our Lord 2022.

Friends and families this world over including those in my circle though conversations have been reminiscing and stimulating our memories of our childhood and school days in the Township of Akosombo and its environs. Most of the conversations have centered on the foundation on which we the Hydro-Babies (an endearing name for one-time children of Akosombo and its environs) built our personal and professional lives.

What could not be missed in our conversations was the young boys and girls from the Suburb of Old & New Combined, who grew up with us in the 80s,90s and early 2000s, many of whom came from poor backgrounds whose lives sadly took negative turns as a result of not attending Secondary/High School or dropping out due to lack of financial support from their parents, nor the township they lived in nor government. At the tender ages of 13-19 years, these young bright boys and girls who used to be our playmates would suddenly become garden boys, househelps/maid servants, shepherds, grass-cutters, taking up other menial jobs in the homes of the rest of us just to be able to support themselves and school. It would surprise no one to know that many of our former playmates from Old & New Combined ended up as riffraffs, some jailed, some females with unwanted pregnancies or abused and some even dying prematurely mainly due to their inability to further their education. I compare the stories of our mates from Akosombo-Combined and other inner-city “ghettos & zangos” in Southern Ghana to those with similar backgrounds from Northern Ghana and note that the main difference between these young bright kids was the Presence of Free Education in the North and the lack thereof in the South.

I take the stories of ‘AGAR and ARISTOTLE’ from Akosombo-Combined, two of the many bright kids and playmates of ours in our childhood days who faced the hurdles of economic hardships and the financial impediment the size of the Great Wall of China. I would occasionally run into AGAR after migrating to Accra to continue my education who by then was also busily obtaining his degree on the streets of Accra gradually making strides in his rather unfortunate and undesirable quest to becoming a full-blown street graduate. ARISTOTLE would stay in Akosombo to become a Shepherd’s boy while the rest of us were littered across various schools in the nation in furtherance of our education; finally getting the chance to set foot in the classroom of a high school about 5/6 years after us.

FREE EDUCATION FOR NORTHERN GHANA, COULD BE LISTED AS ONE OF THE GREATEST GIFTS A GROUP OF LEADERS EVER BEQUEATHED TO THE PEOPLE OF GHANA OUTSIDE OF THE FIGHT FOR OUR LANDS BY THE GOLD COAST ABORIGINES RIGHTS PROTECTION SOCIETY OF WHICH JOHN MENSAH SARBAH WAS A KEY MEMBER, AND THE FIGHT FOR POLITICAL INDEPENDENCE BY LIKES OF PAA GRANT, JB DANQUAH, KWAME NKRUMAH, AND THE REST. THUS, FREE BASIC AND HIGH SCHOOL EDUCATION FOR ALL GHANAIANS INCLUDING NORTH AND SOUTH WOULD BE THE GREATEST GIFT BESTOWED UPON THE PRESENT AND NEXT GENERATION OF GHANAIANS. INDEED, IT IS A FACT, THAT ALL THE GIANTS OF SOCIETY WILL BE NOWHERE WITHOUT THE FOUNDATION RECEIVED FROM EDUCATION EITHER DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY.

Through education , the Township of Akosombo and its environs, together with its various schools including AIS, Akuse, Aboadze, VRAs 1&2 and all the other missionary schools have given unto our dear nation the likes of Her Excellency Samira Ramadan Bawumia, Ghana’s current 2nd Lady, Dr Etse Sikanku, of the Uni of Ghana and a renowned Mass Communication and Socio-Political Expert; Dr Yaw Bediako a renowned Epidemiologist whose efforts in helping to save lives during the Covid-19 Pandemic cannot be quantified; Executives like Messrs. Kirk Coffie and Jonathan Amoako-Baah , CEOs of VRA and GRIDCO under the First Mahama and Akufo-Addo Admins. Mentors such as Honorables Gifty Twum Ampofo of the Ministry of Education, Madam Otiko Dzaba, formerly of the Gender Ministry, Pius Enam Hadzide, formerly of the Information Ministry. Again, through education, Akosombo and its environs have given unto Ghana leaders, managers, broadcasters, entrepreneurs and stakeholders in various fields and industries including Jessica Opare-Saforo, Gwen Gyimah Addo, Finela Morrison and Cynthia Ofori-Dwumfuor to name a few, all of whom are contributing immensely to the continuous growth of our society.

To paraphrase James Kwegyir-Aggrey, if you Educate a Man, you Educate an Individual, If you Educate a Woman, you Educate a Nation; to which I add that if you Educate a Nation, You Enlighten and Endow a Generation. The Free SHS policy which is a continuation of the Free Education policy started by Kwame Nkrumah and some great leaders from Northern Ghana is a gift for which the present and next Generation of Ghanaians shall forever be grateful.

A.I.S, “Truth Is Our Light,” Holy Truth Is All We Seek; God Is With Us In His Might; Source of Light To Show The Way. Happy 60th Anniversary to Us All. God Bless Our Homeland GHANA.GYE-NYAME!

Fiifi Ofori
fiifiofori@gmail.com

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