Kufuor delivers final State of the Nation address
Accra, Feb. 14, GNA - President John Agyekum Kufuor on Wednesday said human resource development was the natural starting point for the knowledge-based society to which Ghana aspired in order to mainstream itself into globalisation.
Delivering his last State of the Nation address to Parliament, he said on assumption of office, he found the country's education system in a parlous condition.
"From 2001, using resources from the HIPC Fund, Budget Allocation and the GETfund, government launched a programme to rehabilitate broken down educational institutions from basic through secondary to tertiary level."
He said other initiatives which have been implemented include the Capitation Grant, the School Feeding Programme and improved students' loan schemes, all of which have contributed to increased intake of pupils and students through all the levels. President Kufuor said on account of Ghana's school feeding programme, when he was invited to address the Council of the World Food Programme in Rome a week ago and "together with a group of pupils from Ghana, I told the Ghana story".
He said with the story, Ghana's School Feeding Programme had become a model for other developing nations around the world.
President Kufuor said the implementation of the constitutional provision of Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE), which had been captured within the new education reform programme, took off on schedule last September.
He said since the First Republic, various educational programmes had recognized the need for science and technology but had not sown the seed for inculcating the essential disciplines in the pupils. "What this government seeks to do at all levels is to acculturate science in them, so that by the time they leave school, their mindset and outlook will reflect an appreciation of science and technology as a way of life."
Touching on Teacher Training Colleges under the education reform, President Kufuor said the entire 38 Teacher Training Colleges were being upgraded into diploma awarding institutions, across the curricula of learning, from science through arts and ICT.
"Further, 15 of them have been designated science colleges to be steeped even deeper in these subjects to provide specialist education for Science, Mathematics and Technology teachers. Technical and Vocational studies are being highlighted in the Reform.
"Government policy is to build Vocational and Technical institutions in every district, so that the youth will learn to use not only their mind, but their hands as well."
President Kufuor said a Distance Education Programme to upgrade teachers beyond the diploma level had been laid.
"Improved conditions of service are part of the incentives to motivate teachers to deliver quality service," he said, adding that, refurbishing of the universities and teacher training colleges were part of government's policy of attracting and retaining young qualified personnel.
President Kufuor said the burden that used to rest solely on the state for the provision of tertiary education was being lessened by rapidly increasing private tertiary institutions, "some of which are proving very competitive in terms of quality of programme delivery and student intake".
He commended the founders of these institutions as well as the national Accreditation Board for their part in the process. "My appeal is that, the curricula of these private institutions should expand beyond Religion, Business and Social Sciences into Mathematics, Science and Technology in line with government's new educational policy."
Touching on health, President Kufuor said integral to human resource development and the achievement of the UN's Millennium Development Goals was a robust health delivery programme.
"For this reason, government has seen to the rehabilitation of the regional hospitals and district health posts, capacity building within the sector and improvement in the conditions of service of health workers.
"Currently, the main driving force of health delivery is captured in the adage 'prevention is better than cure'," he said. The focus was on disease prevention and promotion of healthy life-styles that included healthy eating, at home and in schools, physical exercise, use of potable water and environmental cleanliness, President Kufuor said.
Ghana prides herself as a beacon of good governance - President
President John Agyekum Kufuor on Thursday said Ghana prided herself as a beacon of good governance and commended Parliament for doing an excellent job in dealing with the issue of corruption, which was an affront to good governance.
He said last year saw the public hearings of the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament for the first time and though some of the revelations were mind-boggling, the Committee's proactive stance demonstrated appreciation that concerns about corruption were more helpful when they went beyond mere complaints.
Giving his last State of the Nations Address in Parliament, the President said based on this, the Attorney General's Department had set up an Anti-Corruption Unit to study the recommendations and to prosecute cases that needed to be prosecuted.
He said the Legislature played an important role in the drive for good governance and how to equip the House for its critical role must be of concern to all.
"It is, indeed, a shame that our MPs do not have adequate office room and staff to assist their work," he said, adding that, although he made a promise to provide adequate resources for them in his first State of the Nation address, a loan facility of USD 25 million waiting to be utilised for the purpose was diverted to an apparently more urgent purpose by those who secured it.
The President, however, noted that fresh resources were on hand to refurbish Job 600 for use by the MPs and urged the House to consider preparing a comprehensive budget of its needs for funding in the same way as the Judiciary did.
"In offering this advice to the House, I am tempted to say it is because I care about you."
President Kufuor noted that law and order, an integral part of good governance, also required enforcers in the right numbers proportional to the population. However, compared to the UN ratio of Police to citizen at 1:500, Ghana currently reported a ratio of 1:994.
He said the number of policemen, which stood at 15,983 in 2001 had gained an additional 10,132, adding that, resources lately provided to the police included vehicles, communication equipment, ammunition and uniforms.
The President said, the idea of communities volunteering units for community protection in the past could be revisited. However, that should not be recommendation for instant justice which must be condemned in no uncertain terms.