The Chairman of the Council of State, Prof Kofi Nyidevu Awoonor, has called for emphasis to be placed on the study of English, the nation’s official medium of communication, at all levels of education.
He lauded efforts to make science and mathematics attractive to students but said writing and oral communication skills were equally critical, if not more important than other skills.
Mr Awoonor was speaking at the 60th anniversary durbar of the Bishop Herman College (BIHECO) in Kpando.
Founded on February 28, 1952, Bishop Herman College was the first secondary school established by the Catholic Church in the Volta Region.
The College was named after the famous Catholic Bishop of the then Lower Volta Vicarate of the Catholic Church, Bishop Auguste Herman, a Frenchman from the Alsace-Lorraine region of Grace who was noted for firmly planting the Catholic Church in the Volta Region and also opening schools.
Prof Awoonor said the English language was the common denominator which provided the student with capacity to grasp all subjects and the ability to think and communicate his or her thoughts whether he or she hoped to be an engineer or lawyer.
“The confidence you exude in any profession is your ability to communicate your thoughts with full and unambiguous self assurance. A conscious and sustained effort must, therefore, be made to encourage the command of English by our students in our educational institutions with a greater commitment than hitherto,” he said.
“Students must be encouraged to read and spend less time on the internet which is the easiest road to being bereft of the capacity to think.
Reading clubs should be encouraged in our schools and incentives provided to attract and inculcate the habit of reading in students. That is a sure way of improving writing and oral communication skills of students,” he added.
Prof. Awoonor also lauded the expansion in educational facilities all over the country, the improvement in conditions of service of teachers and upgrading of teaching facilities, but said the priority of the nation should go beyond functional education.
“There is the need for critical orientation towards education that will serve the nation. We must all understand that beneficiaries of education must be useful to society and be the agents for transforming our national life,” he added.
He said the crisis of graduate unemployment which confronted the nation could be partly traced to the high school level where vigorous teaching in the core subjects was not accompanied by serious counseling for preparation to acquired competencies and skills needed for future employment.
He drew attention to the pervasive canker of youth indiscipline which had reared its head in recent times and said educational institutions,particularly at the formative levels had a critical role to play in arresting that development.
He urged the students of BIHECO to abstain from all negative vices particularly drugs and early sex, and concentrate on their studies.
“They must, with singleness of purpose, strive to attain greater heights in their academic pursuits.it is only by t” he added his that they will have the satisfaction of not having wasted their parents’ money,” he added.
A Deputy Minister of Education, Mr Mahama Ayariga, expressed gratitude to BIHECO for nurturing some prominent Ghanaians who were contributing to the development of the nation in their various endeavours
He called on communities to embrace the tenents of ownership of schools, inclusion, community harmony and the pursuit of quality education in view of the fact that they a major stake in the education of children.
He urged the “sons who perpetually bear the indelible insignia of the unique academic training of this institution” to rally round to complete the efforts of the school administration and the government to help resuscitate the glory of BIHECO.
The Headmaster of the school, Rev Fr Walter Mawusi Agbetoh, said the school, which started with 25 students and five teaching and non-teaching staff, now had a student population of 1,400 with a teaching staff strength of 60 and 63 non-teaching staff.
He lamented the lack of infrastructure in the school and the need for massive rehabilitation of the existing infrastructure.
He said the school also needed new dining hall and kitchen complex as the current one was built to seat only 500.
Rev Fr Agbetoh said the school had begun a journey of restoration of its academic glory and added that this was evident in the success chalked in the 2011 West Africa Senior School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE) in which out of the 353 students presented, 209 passed in all eight subjects.
Source: Daily Graphic