President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has resolved to use education as a springboard to get Ghanaians out of the trap of poverty.
He said though a government might not be able to make every citizen rich, with the right political will and responsible leadership, a government could help create a society of opportunities and empowerment for every citizen and thereby reinforce the sense of patriotism.
This, he said, he would do through access to education.
Speaking at the 70th Anniversary and Speech and Prize Giving Day celebration of the Ghana National College in Cape Coast at the weekend, President Akufo-Addo said advanced countries in the 21st century did so because they paid significant attention to education.
The celebration which was held under the theme: “Rekindling patriotism in the youth”, brought together high profile government officials, parliamentarians, old students, parents and students.
“Countries like the United States of America (USA), Japan, South Korea, India Canada and China others were once like Ghana, they, however, got out of the trap of poverty because of education. They paid attention to education and invested for the development of their human capital. Today the results are obvious”, the President said.
This, according the President, was the motivation for the introduction of the Free Senior High School (SHS) education policy in 2017 to develop the human capital of the country to propel socio-economic development.
More than 90,000 students were admitted last year onto the programme and the figure could see an increase of 31 per cent this year, raising concerns about infrastructural challenges in the various Senior High Schools.
President Akufo-Addo said the introduction of the free SHS meant that there would be challenges of infrastructure which the Government through Ghana Education Service (GES) has substantially addressed.
However, he said, the policy could not be halted until all the issues of infrastructure were adequately addressed, hence the introduction of the “double intake system” as a temporary measure to absorb the huge intake of students.
President Akufo-Addo said Government is determined to employ more teachers to fill in the teaching gap in the country’s education sector, particularly at the SHS level.
He said the free SHS has come to stay and it would be a permanent feature of the country that would become a significant tool for its socio-economic development.
President Akufo-Addo called on all Ghanaians to embrace the double intake system and work to ensure its success because the younger generation and the future of the country would be the ultimate beneficiaries adding that “we all owe it a duty to create conditions of progress for ourselves in our country”.
Nana Prah Agyensem VI, Chief of Assin Kushea and Omanhene of Owirenkyiman Traditional Area, urged the public to respond to the clarion call of the President to do whatever it takes to ensure the success of the free SHS policy.
In this regard, he said, it would be fair and reasonable to create avenues for parents who could pay their children’s school fees to do so to ensure the success of the policy.
Mrs Juliana Owusu-Ansah, Headmistress of the school, said the school placed great emphasis on academic achievement while seeking to educate students holistically.
She said the percentage passes of its students into the tertiary institutions has increased steadily from 33.8 per cent in 2015 to 83. 1 per cent in 2017 and expressed the optimism that the school would perform better in the 2018 WASSCE.