Debunking the claims with figures, he said performance in the four core subjects – English, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies – had improved significantly with the introduction of the policy.
He noted that 33 per cent of WASSCE candidates passed Mathematics in 2016 but the figure went up to 54.1 per cent in 2021, adding that Mathematics formed the basis of technology and many other old and emerging fields.
The pass rate in the English Language went up to 54.8 per cent in 2021 from 53 per cent in 2016.
“Integrated Science improved from 48.5 per cent in 2016 to 65.7 per cent in 2021 and Social Studies made the same improvement from 54 per cent to 66 per cent,” he said.
Not only had more young people gotten access to education but there was a much higher rate of proficiency, the President said.
“So, how can anybody turn round and say this thing has not been good? It has been a major contribution to the future of our country,” he said.
Interacting with the people at Kasoa during his two-day tour of the Central Region on Friday, President Akufo-Addo said apart from expanding and developing infrastructure, there were also key reforms such as teacher motivation and access to quality textbooks.
“These have been major contributions and in a few years’ time we will see that the policy has been an intervention that has really lifted the prospects of the development of our country,” he added.
The President observed that sceptics of the Free SHS had changed their stance from “a bad policy to the fact that it could be implemented in a better way.”
He said he was all for suggestions that would help improve the implementation of the policy because the benefit was for the next generation.
“And if there is anyone with an idea on how the system can be made better, I will not stand in their way.”
Responding to suggestions that the policy should be targeted at the poor, he insisted that he would not condone segregation in the delivery of education.
“If you can afford to pay school fees, you can take your wards to the private school for the fee-paying exercise,” he said.
The President said he was inspired by the story of the United States, which was a developing country at the beginning of the 20th Century but had reached the state of a developed country through a deliberate education agenda.
On access, the President said the Free SHS had resulted in the biggest number of young people ever having access to senior high school education in the entire history of Ghana with 1,765,977 students since 2017.
He noted that most of the beneficiaries would have been denied education owing to financial constraints.
President Akufo-Addo insisted that the system was necessary to unearth the talents and fine brains needed for the development of the country.