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Full Text: President’s Speech At The Launch Of Free SHS   
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Today is a very happy day for the good people of Ghana, for the government, and for me personally.

I am here, this morning, to perform a very pleasant task: to launch the commencement of the Free Senior High School policy. When I proposed this policy in 2008, many were those who said Free SHS could not be done. The idea was ridiculed and was described by propagandists as a vote-buying gimmick, even though, ironically, it did not win me that election.

I was labeled a liar by my opponents, who went on to state that Free SHS could only be possible in 20 years’ time. Nonetheless, the Ghanaian people were discerning, and believed it was possible.

The culmination of that belief, inter alia, resulted in the decisive victory won by the New Patriotic Party and my modest self in the elections of 2016. I made the pledge of providing every Ghanaian child with access to senior high school, because I know that knowledge and talent are not for the rich and privileged alone, and that free education widens the gates of opportunities to every child, especially those whose talents are arrested because of poverty. A government may not be able to make every citizen rich.

But, with political will and responsible leadership, a government can help create a society of opportunities and empowerment for every citizen, and I know no better way to do so but through access to education. Any country that aims to transform itself into a modern productive player in the global marketplace must get its educational policies right. Our economy, for over a century, has been dependent largely on the production and export of raw materials.

This cannot, and will not create prosperity for the masses of Ghanaians. We must move from being a natural resource producer to a value-added producer, adding value to our natural resources, and, thereby, reaping higher benefits from them. A recent report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has estimated that providing every child with access to education and the skills needed to participate fully in society would boost GDP by an average 28% per year in lower-income countries for the next 80 years.

The countries that have made rapid progress around the world put education at the heart of their development. In the mid nineteenth century, the United States of America began to transition to publicly funded high school education. It must have been a daunting prospect at the time – paying for the education of so many children, for such an extended period of time out of limited public resources, transferring a potential workforce away from immediate productivity for an investment like schooling.

But the experiment paid off. America set herself up for 20th century success, creating a workforce fit for rapid economic development, which has inspired the emergence of the most powerful economy so far known to human history. Indeed, other nations, who began their lives as independent states at the same time as we did, like Singapore, Malaysia and Korea, have emulated a similar model and have also achieved great economic success.

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