Ghana’s President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has underscored the importance of education to the advancement of the African continent.


President Akufo-Addo indicated, however, that the paradox of Africa having the youngest population and being the richest continent on the planet, but with the worst living conditions could only be broken by education, adding that Africa had the capacity and resources to finance the education of its citizens, without depending on support from others.


He said Africa could not depend on other people to finance education on the continent because the continent’s abundant natural and human resources, when prudently managed, by eliminating corruption, could turn Africa around its fortunes in financing the cost associated with providing quality and accessible education for all of its citizens.


President Akufo-Addo was addressing the 3rd International Conference on the Replenishment of the Funds of the Global Partnership for Education in Dakar, Senegal, on Friday.


President Akufo-Addo, who explicitly expressed distaste for corruption, cited the Thabo Mbeki Commission that looked at the illicit flows of capital out of Africa which estimated that for every year, in the last ten years, $50 billion went out of Africa through illicit means and wondered what those monies would mean for the capacity of African nations, if African leaders had been vigilant rather than being accomplices in the illicit outflows.


He blamed the continent’s leaders for their failure to reduce corruption and urged them to have more intelligent arrangements to check the exploitation of the continent’s resources and prevent the flight of capital out of the Continent.


He, therefore, challenged them to ensure that the huge wealth of the continent was used on behalf of the peoples of the continent― at least, for the first time in modern history.


President Akufo-Addo expressed misgivings about the summit discussing the funding of education by others rather than about education for the continent.


That notwithstanding, the President commended those who made pledges to support Education in Africa, but was quick to add “I think it is extremely important for us to get our whole mind set right. We have within us the capacity to develop and promote the interest of our continent ourselves. Let’s do it.” 


“We are going to have to make sure that every young child, boy and girl, has access to education. Not only do they have access to education, but they have access to an education that will allow them to be able to address the challenges of the 21st century,” he added.


On developments in Ghana, President Akufo-Addo said the country was determined to open opportunities for everybody.


“So, in the last 5 years, before my government came, every year, over 100,000 young Ghanaian students were unable to transition from Junior High School to Senior High School, largely because of money. Many of them fully qualified, but their parents were unable to support their higher education. We felt that at this stage in the history of our country, the Ghanaian State should take on that responsibility. So, as from September past, Senior High School education in the public school system has been made free,” he said.


The President continued: “What it has done is that the figures have reversed. 90,000 more students entered senior school this year than the year before. It is the first step in ensuring that the educational system in our country, from kindergarten through primary to secondary, and ultimately through university, are open for everybody.”


In confronting the question of the quality of education that will prepare the young population of Africa for the life of the 21st century, he indicated that it was only a greater focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, which would guarantee the future of the continent.


“We have seen that in the development of the economies of Asia, in China, India, Japan, and Korea. That is the way forward, to be able to make the transition from poor to prosperity,” the President added.


The visit to Senegal was at the invitation of Senegal’s President Macky Sall and French President, Emmanuel Macron.


President Akufo-Addo was accompanied to the Conference by Hon. Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, Minister for Education and officials of the Presidency, Foreign and Education Ministries.


Source: ISD (Rex Mainoo Yeboah)