The 2012 Presidential Candidate of the New Patriotic Party has reemphasised his conviction that it is only through “education, education, education” that Ghana can achieve prosperity and enhance the human dignity of all her people.
Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo said, “The freedom of Ghanaian is meaningless without a deliberate policy to grow his or her intellectual property. We need to prepare our people and empower them with the confidence and skills to become champions in this new and exciting, competitive Africa.”
His government, he said, would design Ghana’s education system and training institutions “in such a way as to encourage and support this process of socio-economic transformation that will also necessarily embrace a strong attachment to technology,” with greater emphasis on the sciences.
It is not for nothing, the NPP flagbearer said, that China mandates 40 percent of her secondary school students to do science and using Germany as another example, he said that the German economy is the strongest in Europe because successive German authorities invested heavily in developing great minds like Albert Einstein.
“Science, technology, communication and information technology have become the structure of knowledge in the 21st century,” Ghana can only succeed by following that path with deliberate policies.
He said this when he delivered a major policy statement on his vision for Ghana at the 3rd NPP International Conference in Hamburg, Germany, at the weekend.
He said, fundamentally, the main political issue in Ghana is how to win the enduring war against poverty.
“However, we can only win this war by first recognising that we cannot continue deploying the same ineffective weapons of old and expect victory,” he said, stressing, “Ghana cannot continue the folly of doing the same thing over and over again and expect different results.”
This, he said, calls for breaking “our future free from the shackles of the Guggisberg economic model of producing and exporting raw materials.”
But, it takes more than raw materials to develop a nation. “Africa,” he said, “is probably the richest continent in terms of natural resources. Yet, those riches have not translated into prosperity for the African people. On the contrary, the African people are the poorest on earth.”
He suggested why: “We have not been able to use our natural resources to transform the lives of our citizens because we have not prioritized the development of the most important ingredient in any nation’s development mix: the mind.”
He noted, “That is why I have made the issue of nurturing the intellectual property of the Ghanaian my highest priority. “Education, education, education.”
The 2012 Presidential Candidate of the NPP said, “Without education we shall sweat and toil in vain. For Ghana to industrialise, we must take a total look at the economic, organisational, administrative, legal, regulatory, technical, financial and even sociological conditions of Ghanaian industry. But beyond that, we must not compromise in our commitment to provide for every Ghanaian child access to quality education, regardless of the circumstances of his or her birth.”
He criticised the education reforms of the late 1980s, which introduced the Junior Secondary School system as the first point of exit, for merely ending up “throwing out onto our streets each year an estimated quarter of a million school leavers without any form of basic, employable skills.”
This represents about half of the numbers that sit for the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) and the West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examinations (WASSCE) at the two exit points, failing in their final papers, he pointed out.
He referred to a recent survey by the Ministry of Education which showed that about 64% of JHS pupils cannot read or write.
Nana Addo explained the grim reality from the findings: “What this means simply is this: we have been banishing about half of our youth to a future of hopelessness and struggle. This is not the way to build a nation and we should work together to put a stop to this phenomenon of failure and hopelessness.”
To him, “The least that a society can give its youth are education and skills for jobs. Without the foundation of quality education, the other two become a chanced struggle and the quality of tuition a child receives before the age of 16 can make or break his or her future. That is why I am saying that, under my presidency, the Junior High School level would no longer be the first exit point for education.”
If elected, “my government will introduce a policy that will make Senior High School part of the basic school system and, therefore, the first point of exit for every child in Ghana,” he said.
Again, “we are determined to tackle the critical issue of the kind of education that we offer to our future citizens. The future is for quality education. This means that at the heart of our education policy will be what we have called, ‘Teacher First’,” he said, recognising that to offer quality education is to focus on the needs of those offering tuition, teachers.
“We are determined to put the needs of the teacher and hence the quality of tuition for our children first,” he said, adding that, quality education will be at the very heart of the next NPP policy on education. “We intend to enhance quality of education in every public school in Ghana in our overriding goal of building a new society of opportunities by committing, by legislation; a significant and constant percentage of our GDP to education.”
He criticised the Mills administration for pursuing a consistent yearly policy of cutting down the percentage of GDP dedicated to education.
Source: NPP Communications