President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has stated that the double track calendar system to be implemented this September as part of the free senior high school (SHS) programme will not be applied to all schools but only those whose current capacity will be exceeded by the number of students admitted.
He said the double track system would not destroy the educational system but, on the contrary, reduce class sizes, increase contact hours between teachers and students and increase the number of school holidays.
The President made the assertion when he addressed the climax of the 2018 Asafotufiami Festival of the chiefs and the people of Ada in the Greater Accra Region last Saturday.
“In spite of the existing infrastructure deficit, we will make sure that no qualified Ghanaian child is left behind,” he said.
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There was the firing of muskets, while over 30 all-female bands marched in military-like formations. The bands played Gospel music and sang war songs and the National Anthem.
The members of some of the groups were octogenarians and children as young as six years who put up masterful performances and received applause from the President.
Various Asafo groups took turns to swear oaths of allegiance to the Paramount Chief and President of the Ada Traditional Council, Djetse Abram Kabu Akuaku III.
The festival was celebrated on the theme: “Mobilising local resources towards development and growth of the traditional area”.
It was the first festival the President had attended in the Greater Accra Region since he assumed office 18 months ago.
President Akufo-Addo said every new initiative had teething challenges but he was inspired by the famous Chinese adage: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step”, saying “once the first step has been taken, we shall deal with the challenges”.
He explained that the launch of the free SHS programme in September 2017 provided an additional 90,000 children with the opportunity of secondary education and that 180,000 more would be admitted to SHSs this year.
He said the double intake system was being adopted to ensure that all those who qualified were admitted, adding that 8,000 more teachers would be recruited to augment the current teacher population.
The President noted that traditionally the NPP did not fare well in polls in the Ada area but said he was hopeful things would change, judging from the warm reception he had received.
He said the government of the NPP was determined to work assiduously to bring development to the Ada area.
He stressed that his administration would spread progress and prosperity to all parts of the country in a balanced and inclusive manner and irrespective of whether the people voted for his party or not.
According to him, 36 factories of the One-distinct, One-factory (1D1F) programme were at various stages of becoming operational to create thousands of direct and indirect jobs.
The President mentioned the Lankiani Soya Mills Factory located at Asutuare which had been inaugurated and was functioning.
He urged the Ada East and the Ada West District assemblies and the Ada Traditional Council to develop strategic plans to allow for the potential of the area to be exploited for the people’s development.
He revealed that the government was working jointly with some interested entities to invest in the Songhor Lagoon and turn it into a modern salt industry to create employment and generate the needed revenue for development.
A young lady, Ms Anita Gyan, together with a young man, recited poems on the free SHS programme and under-development in Ada, in spite of the salt and tourism potential of the area, and eulogised the President’s fight against galamsey, after which she received presidential mention.
The President said he had been briefed on her sterling educational performance last year which earned her a GHc5,000 scholarship from the Chief of Staff, as well as her inclusion among 10 students benefiting from an educational exchange programme to China this month.
On infrastructure, the President said the Roads Minister had informed him that roads in the area were receiving attention and assured the chiefs and the people that work on all abandoned projects would commence very soon.
He said the area could develop only when the chiefs put aside their differences, were united and provided leadership, saying that when that was done, the people would come to understand that in spite of having different interests, they were all Adas and must act as a collective.
Djetse Kabu Akuaku commended district chief executives in the area for executing and spearheading development projects.
He said Ada had resources such as large salt deposits and vegetable farms and also had potential for the establishment of agro-processing industries and tourism facilities.
He said when these were harnessed, the traditional area could contribute immensely to the President’s vision of moving the country beyond aid.
He appealed to the President to help the traditional area with at least two SHSs, so that students who graduated from junior high schools could continue to the second cycle without struggle.
Djetse Akuaku commended the government for establishing a polyclinic in the Ada West District.