The first time I heard the description “Akufo-Addo graduates” was from the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo himself. 

The President came to address the nation with education and specifical arrangements for reopening of schools for the final year Senior High School (SHS) students on his mind. As usual, he came wearing his signature tune African print shirt and as if by design and to connect with his targets, he decided to appear in a print with the design called “pencil”.

The other week, also in education mood, he had “ABC” design on as he came to announce the reopening of Universities for final year students.  

Elaborating on the lead topic in his 12th address to the nation last Sunday, the President laid bare the arrangements put in place for the Akufo-Addo graduates to return to school. The reason for the relaxed restriction is so that the final year students could go and study and write their final examination.

Free SHS policy

These students are the first beneficiaries of government’s free SHS policy to sit the West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE). Like a typical father excited to see his first child go through his or her first major examination without hindrances, pandemic or no pandemic, the President displayed his confident self with a list of fresh interventions carefully put together to see these students have a good stay and the peace of mind to study.

And certainly, they should. We are informed that for the first time, no parent is going to have to worry about the payment of the WASSCE fees which will amount to a total of ¢75.4m for nearly 314,000 students across the country. With the hardships parents and guardians are going through with Covid-19 disruptions to job security, this should come as welcome news for them.

Incentives

A lot more incentives were outlined in the President’s address for the students. He assured them of enough food supplies. It reminds one of Jesus’ teaching to His disciples on the Kingdom values. To cure their worries, He told them not to worry about what they will eat or drink. The list of pampering continued when he prepared the students’ mind about protocols in place for COVID-19. 

He assured them of individual reusable face masks, promising that the schools will receive enough Veronica buckets, liquid soaps, hand sanitisers, tissue papers and thermometer guns to help the students go through safe hygiene protocols. To emphasise that they are further thought of, the President even directed the schools as to how many children should be in a class in order to observe social distance protocols.

It is the wish of all Ghanaians that the students would be on their best behaviour as they go back to school. They have a charge to keep with the taxpayers’ money that has seen them this far. They would need to keep up with their studies and preparations for the major examinations ahead of them. And in this pandemic era, they need no telling that their personal hygiene and any other safety measures to fight the spread of the disease are in their own hands. 

Expectations

It is said that for whom much is given, much is expected. So the SHS final year students need no reminding of what is expected of them. They have been shown so much love on top of the three years of free SHS education.  It is time for one to demand hard work to justify the investment the nation has made in them over the last three years. The nation will not expect anything less than good results for as they probably know by now, there is nothing like a free lunch.

But above all, they need reminding that they have been tagged to a presidential brand called Akufo-Addo. They are carrying the brand’s aspirations and values. If they do not work hard they stand a chance of bringing the brand down. Certainly, some people would not be amused with that.

And so the Akufo-Addo graduates are about to write history. They are the country’s first free SHS graduates in this Fourth Republic. They will have a lot to tell their children about studying in a pandemic era for a major examination. They can tell a bit of history about the president of the day whose name they bore as graduates.

One can only wish them well and hope they come out with flying colours.  All eyes will be on them.

Writer’s email: vickywirekoandoh@yahoo.com