President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has urged churches operating mission schools to refocus their attention on the establishment of early childhood schools.
He noted that currently religious groups were concentrating more on the tertiary sector, to the neglect of early childhood development, and urged them to take another look at early childhood development.
That, he said, would help inculcate the values of discipline and hard work in Ghanaian children, as was the case in the past.
Ghana News Headlines
For latest news in Ghana, visit Graphic Online news headlines page Ghana news page
The President reminisced that the schools established by churches contributed immensely to the formation of attitudes and character building in children, stressing that today, more than ever, the traditions of discipline and hard work that characterised the Presbyterian schools of old were needed urgently for nation building.
Addressing the eighth General Assembly of the Evangelical Presbyterian (EP) Church on the theme: “Breaking new grounds: Now is our turn”, in Accra on Thursday, President Akufo-Addo said the EP Church, like its counterpart the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, used to be very active in the early childhood sector.
“There is an obvious and great need in this sector and we seem to be failing our young people. There can be no denying the fact that the most critical stages of education for any child are the early years,” he said.
“I am aware that the growth of the church is, quite properly, a big consideration in the decisions that you take. The theme of this General Assembly is ‘Breaking new grounds’ and I offer you the famous saying of St Francis Xavier: ‘Give me a child until he is seven and I will show you the man’. In other words, catch them young, catch them at pre-school and at kindergarten and you have them for life,” he added.
Presbyterian schools, the President recalled, used to be easily distinguished by the behaviour of their students and by the orderly nature of their compounds.
He said communities that developed within enclaves of the Presby Church had houses that were well-laid out, clean and orderly.
“Those who lived there obeyed the rules and regulations of the community and there was a sense of communal responsibility. People genuinely believed in being one another’s keeper and one could say that it, indeed, took the entire village, the community to bring up a child,” President Akufo-Addo said.
“In those days, they harvested rainwater, took great care and were protective of the environment. They planted trees and had vegetable and flower gardens. They were great proponents of educating the head, the heart and the hand, and when you established your first secondary school, Mawuli School, you gave it the motto: ‘Head, Heart and Hand’.
“Even though they laid great emphasis on education, they were not afraid of working with their hands, and they produced scholars and artisans of great repute,” he said.
Those communities, the President added, celebrated success and everybody in the community took an interest in the schools and their management.
He said teachers were held in high esteem but were also held accountable to the community, explaining that in other words, those communities were the epitome of what many people felt the country lacked today in “our communities and in our nation — cleanliness and orderliness, a sense of communal responsibility and being one another’s keeper”.
President Akufo-Addo said there was a great opportunity for the EP Church to take the opportunity now and play a leading role in the early childhood educational sector.
“The values of the church are desperately required in this critical sector,” he added.
“I ask you to capture the spirit you were known for and let us build the self-confident and prosperous Ghana we all desire,” he charged.
Response to church’s request
Responding to an appeal by the Moderator of the church, Rev. Dr Seth S. Agidi, for government’s support for two of the church’s schools in the Volta Region, President Nana Akufo-Addo said: “I hear you, Moderator. I hear you loud and clear about the sad state of the Amedzofe College of Education and the Technical and Vocational Training School at Alavanyo.”
He said the Moderator touched a nerve close to his heart when he spoke about the training of teachers and technical and vocational training.
“Those are the areas that require urgent attention. I promise I shall alert the Minister of Education and urge him to put Amedzofe and Alavanyo on his to-do list,” he assured the Moderator.
For his part, Rev. Dr Agidi said for more than the 170 years of its existence, the EP Church had been a trailblazer in the establishment of schools, colleges of education and recently a university of education in the Volta Region.
He said the church had been playing a leading role in the provision of quality education in both the Christian and the secular educational sectors of the country.