The Executive Director of the United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Mrs. Henrietta Holsman Fore, has commended the President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, for the decision taken in September 2017 to introduce the Free Senior High School Policy.
According to Mrs. Fore, “If I may pay homage to President Akufo-Addo, having free secondary school is probably the greatest gift you can give to a family and a girl. It then encourages the girl to not be considered lesser in her family, and it encourages her to go to school.”
The UNICEF Executive Director explained that “if a girl can go to school, then there are so many other benefits. There are health benefits. She does not become a young mother, and become a young bride. Half of the maternal deaths are because the mothers are just too young, there are adolescents, and they are children with children. The benefits (of free secondary education) to a society are immense. For girls, we see that it is probably the single most important area for a government to bring up.”
Mrs. Henrietta Fore made this known, on Friday, 27th April, 2018, at high level event to mark the achievement the Education Above All Foundation to enrol ten million children to receive quality primary school education across the world.
President Akufo-Addo, who attended the event in his capacity as co-Chair of the Group of Advocates of Eminent Persons of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), stated, in his remarks, at the event, that there is no part of the world that does not recognise the importance of education.
“We have all accepted that education is the best route to moving out of poverty. Today's youth, running barefoot to school, could be a future leader of the arts, business, government, industry or sports,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo told the gathering that his father, “lost both parents at a tender age. But through perseverance and borrowing money from a relative, he burnt the midnight oil to end up as a barrister, and become the outstanding figure that he was in Ghana. Indeed, at the time I was born, my dad was still paying off monies borrowed from that helpful relative.”
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With 63 million children in the world, between the ages of 6 to 11, currently out of school, President Akufo-Addo noted that EAA and UNICEF will help bridge that gap, and draw us closer to the realisation of Sustainable Development Goal No. 4, which enjoins us to help ensure inclusive and equitable quality education, and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
“For us in Ghana, the Capitation Grant, introduced some 13 years ago, under the administration of that far-sighted Ghanaian statesman, His Excellency John Agyekum Kufuor, the 2nd President of Ghana’s 4th Republic, is, presently, enabling six million, three hundred and seventy one thousand, nine hundred and seventy five (6,371,975) school-going children, representing some 90% of school-going children in Ghana, to enjoy fee-free education in our basic schools,” he said.
The President continued, “The Free Senior High School Policy, introduced for the first time by my Government in September last year, has put ninety thousand (90,000) more students into Senior High School in 2017, than in 2016. Our goal is to guarantee every Ghanaian child a minimum of secondary school education. It is the hope of every mother and father, not only in Ghana, that education will help their children escape poverty, and provide them the avenue to a good life.”
On behalf of the ten million children, who are being afforded the opportunity to sit in a classroom, and chart their own path for the future, President Akufo-Addo said “thank you, once again, to Her Royal Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Education Above All and UNICEF.”