The Executive Director of the United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has commended the President for introducing the Free Senior High School (SHS) Policy.

Henrietta Holsman Fore said, “if I may pay homage to President Akufo-Addo, having free secondary school is probably the greatest gift you can give to a family and a girl. It then encourages the girl to not be considered lesser in her family, and it encourages her to go to school.”

She was speaking on Friday at a high-level event to mark the achievement the Education Above All Foundation to enrol 10 million children to receive quality primary school education across the world.

The UNICEF Executive Director explained that “if a girl can go to school, then there are so many other benefits. There are health benefits. She does not become a young mother and become a young bride. 

"Half of the maternal deaths are because the mothers are just too young, there are adolescents, and they are children with children. The benefits (of free secondary education) to a society are immense. For girls, we see that it is probably the single most important area for a government to bring up.” 

President Akufo-Addo, who attended the event in his capacity as co-Chair of the Group of Advocates of Eminent Persons of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), stated, in his remarks, at the event, that there is no part of the world that does not recognise the importance of education.

“We have all accepted that education is the best route to moving out of poverty. Today's youth, running barefoot to school, could be a future leader in the arts, business, government, industry or sports,” he said.

The President narrated how his father, “lost both parents at a tender age. But through perseverance and borrowing money from a relative.

President Akufo-Addo with Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Director General

"He burnt the midnight oil to end up as a barrister and become the outstanding figure that he was in Ghana. Indeed, at the time I was born, my dad was still paying off monies borrowed from that helpful relative.”

With 63 million children in the world, between the ages of 6 to 11, currently out of school, President Akufo-Addo noted that EAA and UNICEF will help bridge that gap, and draw us closer to the realisation of Sustainable Development Goal No. 4, which enjoins us to help ensure inclusive and equitable quality education, and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

“The Capitation Grant introduced some 13 years ago, under the former president John Agyekum Kufuor, is presently enabling 6,371,975 school-going children, representing some 90% of school-going children in Ghana, to enjoy fee-free education in our basic schools,” he said.

Actor Forest Whitaker and Foreign Affairs Minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey  

According to him, “the Free Senior High School Policy, introduced by my government in September last year, has put ninety thousand (90,000) more students into Senior High School in 2017, than in 2016.

"Our goal is to guarantee every Ghanaian child a minimum of secondary school education. It is the hope of every mother and father, not only in Ghana, that education will help their children escape poverty, and provide them with the avenue to a good life.”

On behalf of the ten million children, who are being afforded the opportunity to sit in a classroom, and chart their own path for the future, President Akufo-Addo said, “thank you, once again, to Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Education Above All and UNICEF.”