President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Sunday reassured teachers that his government will ensure the profession regained its pride of place in the social and economic development agenda of Ghana.
He said all modern successful societies that had had outstanding results in economic development showed that teacher quality was the single most important determinant of their success and that it was time the Ghanaian teacher became pivotal in the countries quest towards accelerated development and modernity.
President Akufo-Addo gave the assurance at the 2017 President’s Independence Day Awards at the Banquet Hall of the State House in Accra, where 60 students who took part in the 2016 Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) were awarded for excelling.
The President’s Independence Day Awards forms part of activities marking Ghana’s 60th Anniversary celebration that is under the theme: “Mobilising for Ghana’s Future.”
The awards were instituted in 1993 to present scholarships to deserving BECE graduates.
President Akufo-Addo said in times past, society had tremendous respect for teachers because their chosen endeavour came with enormous prestige, responsibility and fulfillment.
He said: “Whatever the route that our teachers come into teaching, we must recognise that putting our teachers first is the reverse side of the adage; every Ghanaian child matters,” adding that it was time that society recognised the invaluable benefits of teachers to one’s individual socio-economic status and national progress.
President Akufo-Addo said his government’s policy to improve educational outcomes, as espoused in the 2017 Budget, would be teacher-centered.
He said: “Teaching will no longer be a stop-gap measure or a job of last resort but a viable choice to enter a well paid and a well respected profession with long term career prospects and good benefits.”
“This policy will not only meet the professional and economic needs of existing teachers but will also look at the way new teachers are trained and treated… Whatever policies and plans we are implementing today is geared towards mobilising for Ghana’s future,” the President said.
President Akufo-Addo commended the awardees for distinguishing themselves in the 2016 BECE which has been described by the Ghana Education Service as the best so far.
He said he was inspired and honoured “because I know I’m looking into the eyes of Ghana’s future, you remind me of the fact that as President I must work harder to guarantee that knowledge becomes the backbone of our modern economy and prosperity.”
“Education should be a right which all of Ghana’s youth should exercise. Today’s youth, running barefoot to school, could be a future leader of industry, business or government. Education is the equalizer of opportunity ….I am in this position as President because of education,” the President said.
Stating that the most important asset of any nation was her people, particularly the youth, President Akufo-Addo said in his interaction with the youth across Ghana, he had come to the realisation that they had outstanding wild imagination, but as the concerns for day to day living crept in, those dreams were placed somewhere, a fond memory they looked on to as they focused on their everyday toil.
“But some of us managed to hang on to our dream… they are our little secrets, the inspiration that drives us to build a better nation,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo said for Ghana to be a stronger and innovative nation, she must do all she could to keep the “dreamers dreaming.’’
He said the country was now at a point where big dreams were important to complete her transformation into a modern 21st century nation that remained distinctly and uniquely Ghanaian.
“It is for this that government has made investment in education its key priority. We have taken the bold decision to ensure that every Ghanaian child of school going age is the beneficiary of basic senior high school education starting from the 2017/2018 academic year.
“Ghana needs well trained, well qualified and skilled human resources to set us on the path of economic development and transformation,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo told the students that they were being prepared towards the creation of a prosperous society, a society which created opportunities for all its citizens and rewarded creativity and enterprise, honesty and hard work.
“A society where there is discipline and fairness, where people go about their lives in a free and responsible manner….a society where there are safety nets for the vulnerable and decent retirement for the elderly. An open society protected by well-resourced and motivated security forces,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo said the fundamental premise of this society was that every child must be the author of his own destiny, free of the circumstances of his or her birth, because each and every child would have the opportunity to acquire the requisite skills and tools to survive and prosper in a free and open Ghanaian society.
“We are determined to make the basis for the birth of a new Ghanaian polity which will make its own unique contribution to the growth of African and the world’s civilization. We have the resources, the men, the women, the values and the history to do it. I challenge all of you to take advantage of the immense opportunities that would be afforded you in the years ahead,” he said.