Zongo Development Fund: prioritising education for sustainable, inclusive development

BY: graphic.com.gh

When the Zongo Development Fund was established by President Akufo-Addo, it's main focus was to bridge the development gap between Zongos and other deprived communities, and the rest of the country.

And when the ZoDF became fully operational in 2018 following the signing of the Act establishing it by the President, a vehicle for sustainable Zongo Development, had, for the first time in the history of Ghana, been established.

As one of special development authorities created, the ZDF's aimed to provide the Zongo community inclusive development through human capital development, infrastructure development, and also providing support for social integration.

After three years since becoming fully operational, the ZDF has undertaken several projects and initiatives in the areas named above. One key area the ZDF has prioritised is investment in education in both infrastructure and direct support to needy but brilliant students from Zongos and other deprived communities.

Zongo Development Fund: prioritising education for sustainable, inclusive development

The reason is simple, as Suleman Arafat Abdulai, the Chief Executive Officer of the ZDF explains.

"Prioritising education is a major policy of the Akufo-Addo government, and as a special vehicle for inclusive development in the Zongos, we cannot do otherwise, hence our focus on investing massively in the education of Zongo youth."

Indeed, the ZDF has prioritised education in the Zongos, as checks by the Zongo Mail reveal remarkable infrastructure development in many Zongos, as well as many direct support.

Apart from the rehabilitation of many schools in Zongo communities across the country, the ZDF has constructed brand new 12 and 6 unit classroom blocks in nearly 20 Zongo many Zongo communities including, Agogo Zongo, Aboabo Zongo, Offinso Kokoti Zongo, Offinso Abofour Zongo, Ntonso Zongo, Atakrom, Zongo, Kpando Zongo, Nkawkaw Zongo, Juanso Zongo, Savelugu, Dielia Zongo.

The CEO of the Fund explains that but for covid-19 which stalled construction works, many more would have been completed as a number of projects are ongoing.

"Many more of such schools are under construction, and are at different stages across the country. Covid-19 stalled our works but we are on course, and hopefully, we will have more School infrastructure."

Zongo Development Fund: prioritising education for sustainable, inclusive development

Apart from main classroom blocks, the ZDF has also provided ICT centres in many Zongo communities across the country, and have also started a multi-purpose library project, with the first one completed at Nsawam Zongo.

For direct, support to brilliant but needy students, Arafat reveals, the support have come in two folds; fully-funded scholarship and grants, in order to be able to support more people.

"Through the instrumentality of His Excellency the Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, 40 brilliant but needy students from Zongo and other deprived communities are currently in Cuba studying medicine," Arafat said.

"We have also provided tertiary educational grants to hundreds of students to enable them pursue tertiary education in many fields," he added.

Zongo Development Fund: prioritising education for sustainable, inclusive development

For all the ZDF is doing in the areas of rehabilitation of roads, clinics, as well as building community astro turfs, bridges, water and drainage system, investment in education tops all, as the CEO reiterated.

The Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia provided a much detailed insight why the Akufo-Addo government has prioritised education, especially in deprived communities such as the Zongo, when he recently spoke at the 2021 National Maulid.

"Government’s focus and investment in education is unparalleled in the 4th Republic," DR. Bawumia said.

"The government of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has prioritised and focused on education because we are well aware of what education does to our people. It enhances productivity, creativity, and technological advancement," he added.

"In addition, it plays a crucial role in securing economic and social progress. As I have always said, education is the greatest leveller. The only sustainable way we can transform our Zongo communities is through the education of our children."

Zongo Development Fund: prioritising education for sustainable, inclusive development

More is in the pipeline, as the Akufo-Addo government plans to start the construction of its announced model secondary school for the zongo community next year.

The construction of three schools will start in Kasoa in the Central Region, Juaben in the Ashanti Region and Tamale in the Northern Region.