By Godwill Arthur-Mensah
Accra, Sept.23, GNA – Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia says the Government, over the past five years, has been pursuing inclusive development agenda through the creation of development vehicles to ensure holistic development of all communities nationwide.
He mentioned the Coastal, Middle Belt, Northern and Zongo Development Authorities as the development vehicles established by the government to mitigate the suffering and challenges facing the people, especially those in deprived areas.
In addition, he said, educating and empowering the people economically, and providing them with functional skills were the only realistic ways to alleviate extreme poverty and underdevelopment.
Vice President Bawumia said this in a keynote address delivered at the second edition of the Annual National Muslim Conference held at the national mosque, Kanda, Accra.
Dr Bawumia observed that the four thematic areas around which the conference revolved- education, health, finance and economic empowerment- were in conformity with the government of Ghana, African Union and United Nations’ development goals to addressing the challenges of unbalanced growth in deprived communities including Zongo areas.
The conference brought together key stakeholders within the Muslim Ummah to discuss ways of developing an action plan and education strategy to empower Muslim youth and avenues to solving many challenges facing Muslim and Zongo communities nationwide.
It was also intended to galvanise the energies, human and material resources of Muslim Community in Ghana to spur Muslim leaders into action for collective growth.
It was on the theme: “Towards the coherence and holistic economic empowerment strategy for national development- The Ghanaian Muslim Ummah in Context”.
“For our government, bridging the development gap between the less privileged communities and others is important for overall growth of our country.
“Ghana will suffer if members of these communities grow and leave others behind. Therefore, government is working to get rid of any form of exclusion,” the Vice President stressed.
Aside the inclusive policies by government, the Vice President said, it was imperative for continuous intra-face dialogues and interface engagements with the Christian counterparts to proffer strategies and plans to mitigate the daily challenges facing Ghanaians.
“I’m very much convinced that educating our people and empowering them economically with functional skills are the only realistic ways to alleviate our people from extreme poverty and underdevelopment,” Dr Bawumia stated.
He noted that several studies had established a strong link between education and social mobility and believed that with the right educational policies and support for uninterrupted schooling as being implemented through the Free SHS Policy, Free TVET and a guarantor free access to loans for tertiary education, a child from any background in the country should not have any barrier to their development.
Dr Bawumia said data had shown that the biggest beneficiaries of the Free SHS Policy had been members from the deprived communities including the Zongo areas, witnessing significant rise in secondary school enrolment, noting that, without the policy many children would have dropped out of basic education level.
The Free SHS Policy, he explained, had seen rise in secondary school enrolment from 800,000 to 1.2 million while the ratio of male and female gender witnessing a parity.
The Vice President urged the Muslim leaders to take advantage of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and TVET education as a strategy to empower Muslim youth and, thus, expressed government’s resolve to invest more in that sector.