President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has stated that Africa has the resources and capacity to finance access to quality education of its citizens and also promote the interests of the continent.
“We cannot depend on other people to finance the education on our continent. I am saying that not to turn my back or to be ungrateful to all these important or noble people who have committed themselves to helping, no; but if we make our policy dependent on other people, when their policy change, we will suffer, he cautioned.
“If we make the policies for ourselves, then it means that, at all times, we will be in control of our own destiny,” he stated.
President Akufo-Addo was addressing the third international conference on the “Replenishment of the Funds of the Global Partnership for Education” in Senegal last Friday.
He was at the conference at the invitation of President M. Macky Sall of Senegal and Mr M. Emmanuel Macron, the French President.
President Akufo-Addo was accompanied to the conference by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms Shirley Ayorkor Botchway; the Minister of Education, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, officials of the presidency and Ministries of Education, Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration.
Reiterating his belief that there were abundant resources on the continent to finance its development, President Akufo-Addo stated that the resources could be put to good use by eliminating corruption in public life; having more intelligent arrangements for those who wanted to exploit the resources on the continent and preventing the flight of capital out of the continent.
“Thabo Mbeki’s Commission that looked at the illicit flows of capital out of Africa has estimated that for every year, in the last 10 years, $50 billion went out of Africa through illicit means. Can you imagine what that money, if we had our eyes open, and we were not complicit in that illicit outflow, would mean for the capacity of our nations,” he asked.
The challenge, therefore, confronting Africa, the President said was “how we can organise ourselves to make sure that the wealth, the huge wealth of this great continent, at least, for the first time in modern history, is used on behalf of the peoples of the continent, and not those outside.”
President Akufo-Addo expressed confidence that “if we are able to close that gap, we will come here to Dakar to talk about education, and not the funding of education by others. We will be talking about the quality of our education, the changes we need to make to our curricula, and the emphasis we have to place on our history and sociology.
“So that, I am not misunderstood, all those who have been making the pledges, it is all good. But, I think it is extremely important for us to get our whole mind set right. We have within us the capacity to develop and promote the interest of our continent ourselves. Let’s do it,” he urged.
Importance of Education
Touching on education, President Akufo-Addo stated that the paradox of Africa having the youngest population, and being the richest continent on the planet, but with the worst living conditions could only be broken by education.
“We are going to have to make sure that every young child, boy and girl, has access to education. Not only do they have access to education, but they have access to an education that will allow them to be able to address the challenges of the 21st century,” he said.
Narrating the experience of Ghana, President Akufo-Addo stated that the country was determined to open opportunities for everybody.
“So, in the last five years, before my government came, every year, over 100,000 young Ghanaian students were unable to transition from junior high school to senior high school (SHS), largely because of money. Many of them fully qualified, but their parents were unable to support their higher education.”
He said the government felt that at this stage in the history of the country the state should take on that responsibility and, so from September 2017, the senior high school education in the public school system had been made free.
“What it has done is that the figures have reversed. Ninety thousand more students entered SHS this year than the year before. It is the first step in ensuring that the educational system in our country, from kindergarten through primary to secondary, and ultimately through university, is open for everybody,” he pointed out.
In confronting the question of the quality of education that will prepare the young population of Africa for the life of the 21st century, President Akufo-Addo said it was only a greater focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics which will guarantee the future of the continent.
“We have seen that in the development of the economies of Asia, China, India, Japan and Korea. That is the way forward, to be able to make the transition from poor to prosperity,” the President added.