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New Year School opens today at Legon

BY: Chris Nunoo
Mrs Mary Chinery-Hesse
Mrs Mary Chinery-Hesse

The annual New Year School and Conference opens at the Great Hall and the Cedi Conference Centre at the University of Ghana (UG), Legon, today Monday, January 24, 2021.

Organised by the School of Continuing and Distance Education of the College of Education of the university, this year’s school and conference, the 73rd edition, is on the theme: “COVID-19 and socioeconomic dynamics in Ghana”.

It is expected to close on Thursday, January 27, 2022.

The conference will be held in-person and virtually, with COVID-19 protocol strictly observed.

It will discuss the economic and social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the country to provoke public discourse and how to effectively respond to the emerging challenges.

The deliberations at the conference will be documented and presented to the appropriate authorities for policy interventions.

In attendance will be the Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Mrs Mary Chinery-Hesse; the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Nana Aba Appiah Amfo; the World Bank Country Director, Mr Pierre Frank Laporte, and the Medical Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of CHILDAccra Medical Group, Dr Juliette M. Tuakli, who is also the Ghana Chair of the Board of Trustees of United Way Worldwide, an international non-governmental organisation.

The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, is expected to open the conference.

Representatives from the Trades Union Congress (TUC), metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives, the media, youth leaders, ministries, departments and agencies, traditional leaders, civil society organisations (CSOs) and faith-based organisations will be among the participants.

Interview

In an interview, a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Distance Education, University of Ghana, Dr Simon-Peter Kafui Aheto, said a communique would be issued at the end of the conference, based on which the school would follow up and embark on serious research.

He said the school had, in the past, looked to CSOs and research bodies to follow up with the research, but it had decided to seriously pursue that itself this year.

Touching on the theme for this year’s conference, he explained that the organisers chose the COVID-19-related topic because of the pandemic and its related issues.

He said the conference would serve as a form of review, both socially and economically, of the impact the pandemic had left.

“We chose the theme because of COVID-19 and its related issues, so it’s like a review of how we fared, vis-a-vis the social and economic aspects of our lives,” Dr Aheto said.

Background

For the past 72 years, the School of Continuing and Distance Education has successfully organised the Annual New Year School and Conference.

Each year, the event serves as a forum where issues of national interest and concern are discussed on a broader theme, with sub-themes.

The annual event brings together ministers of state, captains of industry, academics, labour union leaders and people from all walks of life to deliberate on issues of national interest and make recommendations that will shape policy.

At the end of every school and conference, a communiqué is issued, which captures the recommendations of participants and discussants which inform policy decisions and directions in the country.

In 2017, the school discussed the economy and agriculture, whose recommendations significantly shaped what is now known as the Planting for Food and Jobs initiative.

The non-political school and conference has had many inputs into policies and programmes of the country.