Vice President Kwesi Amissah-Arthur has reminded the youth to avoid drugs, occultism and other unhealthy behaviours that tends to draw them back.
He said the youth must rather choose excellence at all times and build on their desire to excel, which he said would serve them well in the future.
Vice President Amissah-Arthur, who represented President John Dramani Mahama, was speaking at the President’s Independence Day Awards for 2015 at the Banquet Hall of the State House, in Accra.
The President’s Independence Day Awards, which forms part of the 58th Independence Anniversary Celebration, is on the theme: “Achieving transformation through national unity”.
The President’s Independence Day Awards was instituted in 1993, to award scholarship to deserving Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) graduates.
Originally, ten students from each of the ten regions were awarded until 2001. Upon suggestion from the Ghana Education Service, the number was increased to twenty to make room for a boy and a girl from the ten regions.
This year’s award winners are Priscilla Essiful and Frank Toko Oduro, from the Ashanti region, Esther Adwoa Serwa Gyabaah and Ebenezer Bekoe Gyan, from the Brong Ahafo region, Baaba Tekyi Mensah and Lawrence Akwasi Owusu, from the Central region, while Joycelyne Maccarthy Asiedu and Benjamin Okata Ofosuhene are from the Eastern Region.
The others are Beauty Adzormaxe and Charles Gagbe Nukunu, from the Greater Accra region, Elsie Naah Mwineyelleh and William Kwabena Akoto, from the Northern region while Ruby Dogfonuoh Tater and James Ayogbire Adogo are from the Upper East region.
The rest are Felicia Tungbani and Mohaideen Suburu, from the Upper West region, Enyonam Mansah Gasu and Godsway Alhassan, from Volta Region and Christina Amua-Sekyi Acquah and Matthew Asare Manso are from the Western region.
Vice President Amissah-Arthur urged the instilling of unity in the youth since that helped to form the character of the person. He said character is an important factor that influences national peace and stability.
He said Ghanaians needed to appreciate each other because each one of us has a unique role to play to transform the country to the better Ghana that we desire. “We therefore have to harness our resources to build our nation.”
He said the government had demonstrated its commitment to education by introducing policies and intervention to improve access, enhance equity and guarantee quality of education to children of school going age, irrespective of gender, ethnic origin and geographic location.
Vice President Amissah-Arthur further stated that a complementary basic education programme had been introduced to ensure that out-of- school children were guided back into the formal educational system.
He said currently about 24,000 out-of- school children from the Brong Ahafo, Northern, Upper East and West regions have been enrolled in the programme.
He said government intended to extend the programme to the rest of the country this academic year, adding that, in the next three years, the programme is expected to be extended to steer about 120,000 children into the formal school system.
“This is a clear manifestation of the government’s commitment to make basic education accessible to all children no matter their age or their location” he added.
Professor Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang, the Minister of Education, charged the award winners to continue striving for excellence in their academic pursuit and make their parents and the nation proud.
She said since the inception of the President’s Independence Day Awards in 1993 about 400 students have benefited from the programme.
She said an alumni association had been formed by past award winners to support the continuation of the programme.
Professor Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang also stated that the Ministry of Education remained focused on its mandate to deliver quality and accessible education to the people.
She said the Ministry this year intended to purchase GH₵10 million worth of exercise books to distribute to all basic schools in the country.
Mr Daniel Yapobi, the Business Executive Manger of Nestle Ghana Limited, the main sponsor of the President’s Independence Day Awards announced that the prizes for this year’s award winners have been enhanced considerably comparing with that of the last year.
He said each of the 20 award winners is taking home a Samsung tablet, Milo products for one year, GH₵700 cash each with GH₵200 of the amount to purchase book.