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Step up education on Constitution Day - Citizens call

BY: Yaa Kuffour Senyah, Elizabeth Konadu-Boakye, Diana Mensah & Linda Sah
Step up education on Constitution Day - Citizens call
Step up education on Constitution Day - Citizens call

Some Ghanaians have called on the government and the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE) to educate and sensitise the citizenry, especially the young ones, to the significance of the Constitution Day.

They said declaring the day a public holiday without getting the public to understand the importance of such a day made the holiday meaningless and a loss of productive time.

“Already, we have too many holidays in the country and it affects productivity. Adding another one, such as the Constitution Day, without letting the public know the importance of the day keeps the people detached from the day. It becomes like any of those holidays,” Obrempon Yaw Agyeman, a senior citizen who spoke with the Daily Graphic, said.

Other citizens the Daily Graphic spoke with to seek their opinion on the Constitution Day shared similar sentiments.

January 7 is the day a new President, duly elected, is sworn in to lead the country.

This has been the practice since Ghana returned to constitutional rule in 1993 when the late Jerry John Rawlings was sworn in as the first President of the Fourth Republic.

January 7 also marks the first day of a new Parliament after an election year after the old Parliament has been dissolved on the midnight of January 6.

The day became a statutory public holiday from January 7, 2019, in line with the passage of the Public Holidays Act of 2001, Section 2 (Act 601).

This holiday was swapped with the July 1, Republic Day holiday.

Just another holiday

In spite of the fact that this year is the fifth successive year since the Constitution Day was declared a public holiday, a good number of citizens the Daily Graphic spoke with had no idea why the day is a holiday.

Some people with whom the Daily Graphic spoke randomly at Kwabenya, Kaneshie, Awoshie, Abeka, as well as Teshie-Nungua, all in Accra, had varied concerns, but the general trend was that they did not think it was important to have the day declared a holiday.

Even those who admitted having an idea as to why the day was a holiday did not think it was necessary to have the day as a holiday.

They, therefore, called on the government to use the day to educate the public, especially pupils at the basic school level, on the significance of the day and its importance to the country's history.

Public education, review

“I don’t see the essence of a holiday when people don’t know the importance of that day. When we talk about March 6, we all know the importance of that day. Even the significance of that day has been lost to us.

“We all know that January 7 after each election year is when the President and parliamentarians are sworn into office. Maybe what should happen is that January 7 should be declared a holiday after an election year and not be made a permanent holiday as we have it now.

“For me, I think the government and the commission charged with the duty to educate the people on their civic duties and responsibilities have to up their game,” Nii Amarh Ollenu, who described himself as a youth activist, said.

Mr Frank Gyesi, who was going out with his family when the team caught up with him, said although he knew about the holiday, his children did not seem to know much about what the day was for.

He, therefore, called on the government and the appropriate bodies to rather educate children in basic schools on the significance of the day, instead of making it a public holiday.

A student of the University of Ghana, Emmanuella Egyir-Addison, said having had constitutional rule for 30 years, it was necessary to review the Constitution to suit the current situation of the country.

She explained that much had changed since the 1992 Constitution came into force.

”I don’t see the need for this holiday, apart from being a day for government workers and others in the formal sector to rest.

“That is rather a loss to the economy. I hope they do away with this in the near future,” a national service person, Bright Opoku Darkwa, said.

Business as usual

For people in the informal sector, particularly traders, hawkers and market women, the holiday did not apply to them, as it was a normal business day for them.

Afi, who was hawking chilled drinks and bottled water along the Awoshie-Ban Yard road, said she was aware that the day was a holiday but for her it was like any other holiday marked in the country.

“I know that today is a holiday, but I did not know it is Constitution Day. For me, a holiday means an opportunity to make more money,” she said.

A market woman who gave her name only as Daavi said she could not afford to take a holiday.

“I am more concerned about the things I sell than the holiday, so I didn't even bother asking what holiday it was. I have bills to pay and mouths to feed. Staying away for even a day means no food for us on that day," she said.

Another market woman, Serwaa Boatemaa, called on the government to focus on improving the living conditions of the citizenry, as that was what mattered most.

"Holiday or not, we are just here. What difference does it make or benefit does it bring? I just came to sell and I pray God makes things better for us," she said.