Let’s legislate compulsory education - Akufo-Addo to Ghanaians in US

BY: Kobby Asmah
President Akufo-Addo addressing the Ghanaian community in New York, USA
President Akufo-Addo addressing the Ghanaian community in New York, USA

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has strongly advocated the need for the country to move to compulsory legislation in the educational system.

“We must have a law that says that every single Ghanaian child should go to school and stay in school until the end of senior high school (SHS) education,” he stressed.

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Speaking to some members of the Ghanaian community in New York, USA, last Sunday, the President gave a strong indication that by the end of his term of office, there would be a law to that effect.

“I am hoping that by the end of my term, we will be in a position to accommodate every school-going child to be in school in Ghana,” he told the Ghanaian community during a dinner organised in his honour by the Ghana Permanent Mission at the United Nations.

Present at the dinner were the Foreign Minister, Ms Shirley Ayorkor Botchway; Ghana’s Envoy to the UN, Mrs Martha Pobee; a Deputy Minister of Science,Technology and Innovation, Madam Patricia Appiagyei; the Executive Secretary to the President, Nana Asante Bediatuo; the CEO of the National Identification Authority (NIA), Prof. Ken Attafuah, and the CEO of the Ghana Investment Promotion Council (GIPC), Mr Yofi Grant.


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Free SHS

President Akufo-Addo declared that such legislation was very important for the free SHS policy to fully achieve its objective.

He said a couple of weeks ago, Ghana entered the second year of its free SHS programme.

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This year, he told the gathering, the country had to accommodate double the number of students during the first intake of 90,000 to 180,000 students.

And because the government was very determined to continue with the programme, he said, “we had to devise a way by using the existing facilities in the schools to make sure that we broaden access, hence the introduction of the double-track system”.

Some members of the Ghanaian community in New York at the meeting with the President

Interestingly, he said, he did a tour of the Central Region and soon discovered that “my new name is Nana Double Track”.

“God willing, the first or Green Track system has worked very well,” the President said, adding that he trusted that in November the second or Golden Track would also work so well.

President Akufo-Addo lauded the Minister of Education and his deputies for their hard work and promised that the government would stay focused and study.

“That is an important achievement that we have made,” he stated, and expressed the hope that by the end of the term, “we will be in a position to be able to accommodate everybody in Ghana”.

Financial difficulties

On the difficulties facing the financial sector, President Akufo-Addo said the Bank of Ghana (BoG) had to take some very difficult decisions to save the sector.

Unfortunately, he said, it was the indigenous banks that had major challenges of liquidity, insolvency and bad governance that could have jeopardised the deposits of thousands of depositors.

President Akufo-Addo said the central bank had to take the difficult but essential measures to protect deposits and make sure that the process of consolidation in the banks was undertaken with all seriousness.

“I know it is a difficult period in Ghana, but a period of reforms is always difficult to accommodate,” he indicated.

The President mentioned that 10 years ago in Nigeria they had 89 banks and many of them had challenges similar to what currently confronted Ghanaian banks.
Today, he said, as a result of reforms, Nigeria had about 25 banks, which were among the strongest banks in Africa.

“We want to have that in Ghana; we want to be able to have Ghanaian banks that are strong enough not only in Ghana but also in Africa and are in a position to compete with other banks,” he stated.

But, according to the President, the present capitalisation, methods of work and corporate practices of the banks in Ghana were not permitting that, hence the prudent steps taken by the BoG to correct the wrongs in the system.

“I have no doubt that at the end of the day, we are going to have a stronger banking sector among the indigenous banks and they will be in a position to facilitate the financing of our development in a more coherent manner than we have seen,” he stated.

Increase in crude oil prices

President Akufo-Addo also spoke about the dramatic increases in crude oil prices that had brought a lot of pressure on the national budget.

He said that was taking place at a time when the US dollar had also gained strength considerably in the foreign exchange market in the world, which had led to the rapid depreciation of the Ghanaian cedi.

“Ultimately, the method of fighting this challenge is not about printing more currency or supply of more dollars by the BOG,” he reasoned, and argued that it was the expansion of the economy from the medium to long-term that was required.

“We have to approach the foreign exchange matter from medium to long-term by expanding our supply base and capacity to export not just crude and raw materials but also expand industrial activities,” he stated.

That was why, according to the President, the programme of rural industrialisation would come in to play a major transformative impact when it was fully embarked on in the country.

He also assured the people that the crisis or difficulties were not issues that could not be contained “but we are going to do so and we will not be complacent”.

Ghana Mission

Ghana’s Envoy to the UN, Ms Pobee, in her remarks, said the mission had chalked up some successes over the period but had also encountered some serious challenges.

Nevertheless, she said, the mission was committed to working very hard to ensure that Ghana’s profile was raised higher among the comity of nations.

She lauded the Ghanaian community in New York for their sense of bonding, saying that greatly assisted the mission to overcome some of its challenges.

She promised that Ghana’s mission in the UN would continue to build on the success story of the country to make things even better for all Ghanaians.