Twenty students made up of 10 boys and 10 girls from the 10 regions were honoured by the President, Mr John Dramani Mahama, on Tuesday at the Banquet Hall of the State House in Accra.
The President said his government was keen on providing quality education for all. "It is for this reason that we have increased tremendously, the supply of free exercise books, uniforms and infrastructure", he added.
He stated that 200 new community day senior high schools (SHS) would be built in addition to the already existing ones to enable students who qualify for the SHS to get access to education.
Giving the background of the award, the Minister of Education, Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyeman, said the President's Independence Day Awards was instituted in 1993 to award scholarships to deserving BECE graduates.
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Prof. Opoku-Agyeman also said the objective for the award was to encourage students in their academic work, promote their participation in co-curricular activities and reward them for good conduct and moral behaviour.
She indicated that the selection was based on the students’ performance in the 2012 BECE (not necessarily 10 ones), participation in co-curricular activities like school club activities, sports, community services, leadership, exemplary conduct and good moral behaviour.
"The procedure for the selection of award winners starts at the school level through to the district and finally at the regional where one boy and girl are selected to represent a region”.
For their prizes, the first-time awardees were given laptop computers, books, certificates signed by the President, scholarship awards to cover boarding and lodging, while day students received cash, a year’s supply of products from Nestle and an educational tour around the country which would be co-ordinated by the Ghana Tourism Authority.
In all, 300 schoolchildren have benefitted from the awards since it's inception.
In this year's message by the children of Ghana which was presented in English, Ga, Twi, Ewe and Dagbani, they appealed to the President to speed up the distribution of computers under the "One computer per child" policy to facilitate the study of Information Communication technology (ICT), which is now an examinable paper in the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE).
In response, the President assured the children of the new policy of computerisation under which every school would receive sets of computers that would benefit both teachers and students.
In a related development, a number of students who took part in the 56th anniversary parade of Ghana’s Independence last Wednesday could not bear the heat of the scorching sun and collapsed from exhaustion, reports Severious Kale-Dery.
Even before President John Dramani Mahama could deliver his address, as many as 12 students who had fainted were attended to by members of the St John’s Ambulance in two separate first aid tents mounted at the Black Star Square.
Briefing the Junior Graphic on the cause of students fainting, Mr Samuel Osei Manu, who trained the students for the march pass, explained that some of the students fainted because they did not follow basic instructions given them.
Story by Hadiza Nuhhu-Billa Quansah