Public wants more education on Constitution Day

BY: Yaa Kuffour Senyah & Dickson Worlanyo Dotse
Josephine Nkrumah — NCCE Boss
Josephine Nkrumah — NCCE Boss

The National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE) has been called upon to step up its duties on sensitising the public to the importance of the Constitution Day, which is a public holiday.

The Constitution Day, which is January 7, every year, and which has since 2019 been observed as a national holiday, is to commemorate the promulgation of the 1992 Constitution which set the nation on the path to constitutional rule.

However, many ordinary Ghanaians the Daily Graphic interviewed have no knowledge about the day and only regard it as one of the many holidays the country enjoys.

Those who have an idea about the significance of the day urged the NCCE to live up to its responsibility of educating Ghanaians on such an important civic event, lest its importance got lost on the next generation.

Young, old

During the opinion sampling, many of the older people who were interviewed shared similar views that Constitution Day should be the second most important day after Independence Day, which is commemorated on March 6, as January 7 was a rebirth of Ghana’s independence.

“Constitution Day or January 7 should be the most important day on the national calendar after Independence Day. It is another independence for Ghana, as it marks the return to constitutional rule and multi-party democracy. But, unfortunately, that education is missing and many people, particularly the youth, do not see its importance.

“Without the Constitution, we would not be enjoying the freedoms we have today or the democratic dispensation that has made us the beacon of Africa,” Madam Afia Konadu Appiah-Kubi, a 71-year-old retired educationist, said.

A retired accountant, Charles Senyah, explained the essence of the holiday, saying the government thought the Fourth Republic had done well since it was ushered in and needed to be celebrated, and that was why Republic Day was replaced with Constitution Day.

“I think it’s significant for Constitution Day to be a holiday, instead of Republic Day,” he added.

However, for 23-year-old Kwame Nyanteh Mensah, the day was one of the many holidays the nation had on its calendar and had not bothered much to find out the significance of the day.

"I know January 7 is the day that the President is sworn in after a general election and so maybe that is why the holiday is given, so we can all be part of the ceremony. Why is it a holiday? If anything at all, the holiday should be declared only when the inauguration is taking place," he indicated.

A student in his early 20s, Nana Agyemang, also said he believed observing Constitution Day as a holiday was a good thing.

“I don’t really know much about it, but what I know is that we celebrate the 1992 Constitution on this day. I believe it is good that it is a holiday because we have done well as a country and so I think it is a good initiative,” he told the Daily Graphic.

A seamstress, Ms Patricia Tawiah, was against the holiday, saying it slowed down productivity.

“I don’t think we should make it a holiday because a lot of us do not know what it is, so if the big men celebrate it, it is good for them, not us, because it rather slows down our work and the way we make money,” she said.

Ms Christabel Dagblah, a nurse, while indicating that she had an idea what was usually done on January 7, had not realised that it had been made a public holiday and expressed concern that the country had too many holidays.

“I don’t know it is a holiday. Our holidays are too many and so I don’t keep track of them. I think this holiday doesn’t add much to the country because it doesn’t grow the economy. The government should scrap some of the holidays,” she said.

Education needed

To help sensitise the young generation to the significance of the day, many of the young people interviewed said it would be necessary for the NCCE to take up that duty by educating Ghanaians.

“I don’t know if the role of the NCCE has changed, but I believe it was set up to promote and sustain democracy and inculcate in the citizenry awareness of their rights and obligations through civic education. However, we hardly hear of the commission on these necessary things.

“The NCCE has not done well in this regard. For instance, in South Africa, every April 27 is Freedom Day — it commemorates the country’s freedom and the first post-apartheid election held in that country — and most people are aware of the importance of that day because of education on it, just like the Reconciliation Day that is marked every December 16 following the ending of apartheid on that day in 1995.

“The return to constitutional rule is significant and I believe a similar thing could be done here, not only for Constitution Day but also all the other holidays other than the religious ones,” Madam Appiah Kubi said.