President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo says Africa has the resources and capacity to finance access to quality education by its citizens, and to also promote the interests of the continent.
“We cannot depend on other people to finance the education on our continent. I am saying that not to turn my back or to be ungrateful to all these important or noble people who have committed themselves to helping, no.
“But, if we make our policy dependent on other people, when their policy changes, we will suffer. But, if we make the policy for ourselves, then it means that, at all times, we will be in control of our own destiny,” he observed.
The President this when he led a Ghanaian delegation to the 3rd International Conference on the ‘Replenishment of the Funds of the Global Partnership for Education” in Dakar.
It was at the invitation of the presidents of Senegal and France, M. Macky Sall, and M. Emmanuel Macron, respectively.
President Akufo-Addo stated that the abundant resources in Africa could be put to good use by eliminating corruption in public life.
He also underscored the need to have more intelligent arrangements for those who want to exploit the resources on the continent, and preventing the flight of capital out of the Continent.
“Thabo Mbeki’s Commission that looked at the illicit flows of capital out of Africa, has estimated that for every year, in the last ten years, $50 billion goes out of Africa through illicit means. Can you imagine what those monies, if we had our eyes open, and we were not complicit in that illicit outflow, would mean for the capacity of our nations?” he asked.
The challenge confronting Africa, the President observed, is “how we can organise ourselves to make sure that the wealth, the huge wealth of this great continent, at least, in the first time in modern history, is used on behalf on the peoples of the continent, and not those outside.”
President Akufo-Addo was confident that “if we are able to close that gap, we will come here to Dakar to talk about education, and not the funding of education by others. We will be talking about the quality of our education, the changes we need to make to our curricula, and the emphasis we have to place on our history and sociology.”
He continued, “So that, I am not misunderstood, all those who have been making the pledges, it is all good. But, 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.”
Touching on the importance of education to the advancement of the continent, President Akufo-Addo stated 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.
“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 assured
Narrating the experience of Ghana, President Akufo-Addo stated that the country is 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 revered. 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 is only a greater focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, which will 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.
President Akufo-Addo was accompanied to the Conference by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hon. Shirley Ayorkor Botchway MP; the Minister for Education, Hon. Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh; and officials of the Presidency, Foreign and Education Ministries.