President John Mahama has underscored the importance of education as a “true catalyst for poverty reduction, rapid socio-economic development and overall prosperity” and admonished teachers to live true to their conscience and refuse to take salary if they absent themselves from work.
He was addressing the Chiefs and People of Kwabaah Nyanoa in the West Akyem District of the Eastern Region where the sod was cut Monday to commence the construction of the first batch of 50 Community Day SHS being part of a 200-package promised by the NDC while campaigning for office.
President Mahama said the nation allocates between 30-34% of all MDAs budget to education as proof of the very high premium placed on education.
“Yet, because of significant teacher absenteeism rates and low time-on-task outcomes, we – as a people – are not receiving Value-for-Money. One sad consequence is that examination results of our students fall below expectation,” said the President.
He said this is unacceptable hence the declaration of Zero Tolerance for Absenteeism this year by the Ministry of Education, which also plans to implement measures that will ensure that Government does not pay teachers who do not teach.
“No teacher – in clear conscience – should collect their salary when they have not taught the children. The teaching profession is one of the most noble undertakings for anyone in the world. My father was a teacher. I have done some teaching in my earlier years. In fact, the great roles played by teachers in our lives cannot be overstated.
“I am therefore calling urgently on the twenty-seven percent (27%) of teachers – yes, more than a quarter of the number of teachers in Ghana – who absent themselves from work, and continue to bring the teaching profession into disrepute, to change their ways. Let me also appeal to the National Inspectorate Board and the Inspectorate Division of the GES to intensify their supervision so that we can cut down on teacher absenteeism.”
He said the ruling National Democratic Congress, as a social democratic party, believes firmly that education is a right and a privilege and is therefore determined to ensure that “every Ghanaian child, every girl, every boy, must have an equal opportunity for education, no matter where they live in this nation and no matter how poor or how rich their parents are.”
Read the President’s address in full below:
REMARKS BY PRESIDENT JOHN DRAMANI MAHAMA AT A GROUND BREAKING CEREMONY
FOR THE COMMENCEMENT OF WORK ON THE 200 COMMUNITY DAY SENIOR HIGH SCHOOLS
[Kwabaah Nyanoa, Eastern Region- March 03, 2014]
Honourable Ministers of State
Honourable Members of Parliament
Students and Pupils
Friends from the Media
Distinguished Guests Ladies and Gentlemen
I wish to thank you for the warm welcome you have given to my team. We are here for a historic ground breaking event for the construction of the first batch of Community Day Senior High Schools.
Let me also take this opportunity to thank the Chiefs and People of Kwabaah- Nyanoa, for the very kind gesture of offering land willingly and freely for the construction of this first batch of 200 Community Day Schools promised.
Today, my administration is giving practical meaning to our promises, and providing realization to the dreams and aspirations of many of our communities around our nation, as we take concrete steps to expand Secondary Education in Ghana.
I believe this is a dream come true for the people of Kwabaah-Nyanoa and its adjoining towns in the Upper West Akyem District. This dream is going to be realized in all the 200 needy and identified communities around the country.
Ladies and gentlemen, you will recall that, in the 2012 Manifesto of the NDC, we stated our commitment to the expansion of access, and at the same time improving on the quality, equity and affordability of Secondary Education in Ghana.
This promise was guided by – and consistent with – a number of key instruments: our 1992 Constitution, the Medium Term Development Framework, the Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda and the 2010-2020 Education Strategic Plan.
As a social democratic party, we firmly believe that education is a right and a privilege. It is a true catalyst for poverty reduction, rapid socio-economic development and overall prosperity. We are therefore determined to ensure that every Ghanaian child, every girl, every boy, must have an equal opportunity for education, no matter where they live in this nation and no matter how poor or how rich their parents are.
We cannot – as a Government and a people – accept the fact that our existing Senior High Schools currently have the capacity for only 60% of the children who finish basic education. This is why Government is building these new 200 Community Day Senior High Schools, as part of an overall secondary education strategic initiative.
My administration remains committed to helping all parents to educate their children in an affordable manner, by making Secondary Education progressively free, as enshrined in Article 25 of our 1992 Constitution.
We are actively following up on this objective that distance or location should not be a barrier to quality education, and secondary education must be brought to the doorsteps of all communities across this nation. I can imagine a young boy or girl – possibly a future president of this nation – who would have missed out on education because of distance or the remote location of their community, but now they will be able to attend a school close to home, be able to realize their full potential.
A lot of careful consideration has gone into selecting the locations of these new Community Day Senior High Schools. One key criterion is that priority must be given to old and new districts, which are currently without Senior High Schools. Priority is also given to deprived districts. Another consideration is that there are several Senior High Schools struggling to address pressure for places because of oversubscription, resulting in unacceptable congestion.
Nananom, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, this Government will continue to work hard, in our nation’s best interest, to ensure that no child – and no district – is left behind in our drive to provide modern quality education across our nation.
The construction we are starting here today should be completed within the next 18 months.
While constructing the new schools, we are also continuing to expand the capacity of existing Senior High Schools. Under the Secondary Education Improvement Project (SEIP), being supported by the World Bank, our existing Senior High Schools are going to benefit from the rehabilitation and expansion of their facilities, so that we can achieve overall improvements in the quality of teaching and learning.
Nananom. Ladies and Gentlemen, let me take just a moment to share with you nature, design and quality of the buildings we are constructing.
A lot of detailed work has gone into all the required processes and we have arrived at a design concept that is associated with Excellence. So, the centrepiece of each project will be the four (4) storey ‘E’ or ‘Excellence Block’ which has the following facilities:
Twenty-four (24) Classrooms, each having the capacity to accommodate up
to forty-five (45) students;
Four (4) well-equipped Laboratories for Integrated Science; Physics;
Chemistry and Biology
Two (2) Libraries – each capable of seating 150 students
Eight (8) Offices for Departmental Heads
ICT software/hardware Laboratories capable of seating 40 students each and
An Internet Learning area also capable of seating 40 students.
The new schools are designed to offer Science (Pure Science, Agricultural Science and Technical) General (Business, General Arts, vocational) and Technical subjects. They are also designed in such a way that allowance is made for future expansion and for the addition of more facilities.
Brothers and sisters, fellow Ghanaians, these Community Day Schools are being built by Ghanaian Construction firms. The Contractors are employing Ghanaian workers and utilizing Ghanaian raw materials as much as possible, all in line with the Made-in-Ghana Agenda which I have pledged to champion as President during my State of the Nation address last week.
Nananom, Ladies and Gentlemen, education currently accounts for between 30-34% of all MDAs budgetary allocations. That shows the level of importance we are placing on education as a nation.
Yet, because of significant teacher absenteeism rates and low time-on-task outcomes, we – as a people – are not receiving Value-for-Money. One sad consequence is that examination results of our students fall below expectation.
This is unacceptable and we must take firm action. That is why the Ministry of Education has declared Zero Tolerance for Absenteeism this year and plans to implement measures that will ensure that Government does not pay teachers who do not teach.
No teacher – in clear conscience – should collect their salary when they have not taught the children. The teaching profession is one of the most noble undertakings for anyone in the world. My father was a teacher. I have done some teaching in my earlier years. In fact, the great roles played by teachers in our lives cannot be overstated.
I am therefore calling urgently on the twenty-seven percent (27%) of teachers – yes, more than a quarter of the number of teachers in Ghana – who absent themselves from work, and continue to bring the teaching profession into disrepute, to change their ways. Let me also appeal to the National Inspectorate Board and the Inspectorate Division of the GES to intensify their supervision so that we can cut down on teacher absenteeism.
We need to get the basics right in education and proceed on a firm foundation. It is for this reason that the roadmap that the Ministry of Education has presented to cabinet envisages that this first batch of Senior High Schools would be completed and commissioned by August 2015, in time for our progressive free education policy to take off in September 2015.
Our country Ghana is a nation in a hurry. We cannot waste our time on unhelpful arguments. The Minister for Education was given a job to produce a road map for the progressive introduction of free senior high school and cost it. She has done so. It is my responsibility as President to find the money, and in 2015 when we present a budget to parliament; there will be an allocation for the commencement of the free SHS. This argument over budget is unhelpful.
I also wish to urge all of you – brothers and sisters – in this community, as well as the other selected communities where these schools are being constructed, to give the contractors your maximum support, so that the projects can be completed on time.
I look forward to coming back here next year for the commissioning of this project. We are doing the right thing for the education of our children and for the future of our great nation.
God bless you. And God bless our homeland Ghana!
I thank you.