President Akufo-Addo has indicated his readiness to join the fight against the stealthy encroachment of school lands in the country.
This follows concerns raised by headmistress and old students of the Achimota School about the nefarious activities of some private developers at the 90th anniversary celebration of Achimota School on Saturday.
After listening to the statements of the headmistress, Beatrice Adom and the old students at the event, President Akufo-Addo said, “it is a sad but well-known fact now that the Achimota School lands are the subject of concerted encroachment.”
“I’m sure the majority of Ghanaians are horrified at the thought of this national icon being destroyed.
“Achimota School does not belong to only those who have been to school here: the safety and security of Achimota should not and cannot be the responsibility of only those who go to school here or are old students,” he said.
That, he said, was because “Achimota is a national icon, it belongs to the people of Ghana and the conversation of what happens to Achimota cannot be limited to a discussion within these walls”
The President revealed that some people were encroaching on school lands across the country but not on a dramatic scale like in Achimota School.
“The problem of encroachment of school lands as a whole will receive urgent attention from my government; not only attention, but even more importantly, a satisfactory solution.”
He reiterated his government’s commitment to assisting the old students to fence the school to prevent further encroachment.
In response to a request by the headmistress of Achimota School for government’s support to construct an 18-unit classroom block to augment the existing infrastructure, President Akufo-Addo disclosed that “let us leave that request to the capable hands of the Honourable Minister [referring to Education Minister, Dr Matthew Opoku-Prempeh]; I expect him to act on it promptly even if, like me, he is not an AKORA, an old student of Achimota.”
The President added that he, together with the Education Minister, would consider the issue of autonomy as put forth by the old students association.
“Gone were the days when young people used to spend a minimum of five years in Achimota and other secondary schools; quite a number of them spent 7 years here in Achimota. There was time and room to mould young lives and influence behaviour of those who passed through the school.”
According to him, “Achimota was probably the best example of the school that recognized that education went beyond the passing exams; sporting activities played an important part of school life, Achimota school’s playing fields were famous, many athletes emerged from this school, competitive cricket and hockey teams were part of the Achimota legend, children learned to swim and the basics of gardening.”
“Arts and craft and music were not limited to only children who wanted to offer them as examination subjects; there was room for carpentry and pottery and there was room for theatre and Accra used to look forward to the annual production of famous operatives of Achimota School.
“I remember when the school will stage ‘Gilbert and Sullivan operatives,’ I wonder when the last time was that anybody here thought of staging ‘The Mikado.’
“No one can suggest that the school we have today is like anything of the school of old; now that the children spend two and half years in the school, instead of five years, it is not surprising that the extracurricular activities have largely disappeared and the emphasis is on passing exams.”
“These are uncomfortable things to talk about but they are unavoidable ones that should be discussed; these discussions are best done among friends,” he stressed.
“It cannot be right that 60 years after independence, Ghana, our beloved country, should be in its current state.
“But I do not want us simply to moan about our present conditions; I urge you to learn wholehearted support to this new government and the efforts we have just begun to make to build a happy and prosperous nation,” he charged.
President Akufo-Addo added that “hard work and a consistent fight against corruption in public life will bring the transformation we look for; make your presence felt by setting the example of hard work and incorruptibility. After all, you are the leaders everywhere and you should make a difference.
“We should build on what we have and constantly improve on our institutions, but it is also important that we try to maintain the characteristics that gave places like Achimota the winning formula,” he declared.
Present at the function were former President Rawlings and his wife, Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings [both old Achimotans] and Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo-Maafo.
By Charles Takyi-Boadu, Presidential Correspondent