Monday, 19 February 2018

Visits By High Ranking Leaders To Ghana

The Queen Mathilde of Belgium paid a courtesy call on President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo at the Presidency for bilateral talks, during her visit. The President and the Queen also visited University of Ghana for a public lecture which focused on Sustainable Development Goals – A Transformative Agenda for the Future. The issue of Sustainable Development is significant and comes for special mention because two distinguished leaders, President Akufo-Addo and the Prime Minister of Sweden, co-chair a group of 16 eminent personalities tasked by the Secretary General of the United Nations to generate momentum and commitment from the global community for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals Global Agenda 2030. The Queen’s visit is similar to other official visits to the country last year by high-ranking leaders from various parts of the world which included three European leaders, namely, Prime Ministers of Estonia, France and Netherlands. Such visits help to deepen and enhance relationship between Ghana and other countries, providing platforms for open discussion of issues and free ventilation of views on matters affecting them. These visits show that many foreign partners have great confidence in Ghana’s economy and democratic credentials.
The various economic programmes being carried out by government have sent signals to the world that Ghana is determined to succeed. It is in the light of this that programmes initiated by the President of the Republic relating to One District One Factory, Planting for Food and Jobs as well as other initiatives to create jobs for the youth in the country are considered as good efforts to address the socio-economic problems confronting the country. These initiatives ought to be properly monitored to ensure that they achieve the purpose for which they were set up.

This relationship is being promoted within the framework of the country’s policy of Ghana-Beyond-Aid which can be attained through value-added exports and maximisation of mutually beneficial trade relations with other countries. All the visiting leaders have seen the need to encourage Ghana to pursue its agenda of economic transformation, rapid growth, good governance maintaining of peace and security. At the same time, they want to join hands with the country to ensure that matters of mutual interest concerning sustainable development and peaceful co-existence with each other are pursued to their logical conclusions. Apart from the European leaders, many African leaders have also paid visits to the country. Since the world has become a global village, developments in any parts tend to affect other areas. This is why within a framework of globalisation, emerging issues in the country are of concern not only to African leaders but other world leaders as well. Ghana needs to continue collaboration within the context of pursuit a development agenda for mutual benefit with other countries. No country in the world today is an island and this explains why agreeable mutual collaboration is always necessary for sustainable development.

BY: DR. KOFI AMPONSAH-BEDIAKO, DIRECTOR OF CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS, GHANA STANDARDS AUTHORITY.

Fallout From The Vetting Of Martin Amidu As Special Prosecutor Nominee

Before the vetting of Martin Alamisi Burnes Kaiser Amidu as the special prosecutor following his nomination by the Attorney General and subsequently approval by the President, certain members of parliament had expressed different opinions on his suitability or otherwise for the position. It became clear from the beginning of the vetting process, that Mr. Martin Amidu would be very uncompromising when dealing with issues on corruption. The vetting committee came to the realisation that the nominee was prepared to go tough on anyone who misuses money belonging to the state. Mr. Amidu pointed out that if Ghana is able to stop all the leakages money will be saved for development, thereby preventing a situation where the country will have to go round begging for assistance. He made it clear that he was prepared to go after anyone who embezzles state funds and that this would be done without political colouration. The vetting sent strong signals to everyone in the country that very soon acts of corruption would be minimised if not completely eliminated. As was pointed out by Mr.
Martin Amidu, one of the reasons for the past coups d’├ętat in Ghana was corruption. To be able to stop this, therefore, there is the need to fight corruption and discourage people from engaging in it. Corruption globally has prevented the mobilisation of resources needed for socio-economic development. The result has been widespread poverty, degradation, squalor, lack of social amenities in various part of the country to promote of the welfare of the people.

The path being taken by Ghana in her drive against corruption is appropriate and must be embraced by all. The special prosecutor is expected to be strong-headed, fearless, bold and also be prepared to deal with any person or group of persons suspected to have engaged in any form of malfeasance. If this agenda is pursued with all the seriousness required, the country can be turned round in no time to become the envy of the world. In line with this there should be no fear on the part of any one since Mr. Amidu has made it clear that there will be no witch hunting and that he will be fair to all. Based on his performance, the Appointments Committee approved by concensus for the position of special prosecutor. The swift manner in which the committee approved of the nomination shows that the committee was convinced about his competence, capability and conviction to carry out the arduous task ahead. Even though the special prosecutor must be independent, tough and strong-minded, he must be prepared to work hand in hand with other anti-corruption agencies in the country. Furthermore, investigation officers in the office of the special prosecutor must be prepared to go the extra mile to uncover all seemingly insurmountable obstacles that may be encountered during the process of investigation of any issue. Corruption is a major obstacle to socio-economic development, so the anti-corruption crusade must be won at all cost. The earlier we all assist the special prosecutor to fight corruption the better it will be for the entire country.

BY: DR. KOFI AMPONSAH-BEDIAKO, DIRECTOR OF CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS, GHANA STANDARDS AUTHORITY.

Reform To Reflect The Needs of The 21st Century Learner

Issues raised in the State of the Nation Address by the President concerned all Ghanaians but one that was of particular interest to educators is the announcement that curricular in schools are undergoing reforms to deal with the weakness in the education system. Over the years, the education system has experienced crisis, more children are in school, but do not achieve the minimum reading skills and most graduates from the tertiary institutions are lacking the skills needed by employers. The explosion of the 4th Industrial Revolution and the need for the country to develop people with global competence are signals that the weaknesses in the education system have widened. The current education system is rooted in models that were successful only in the past and cannot be applicable in today’s society. To quote Dr. Deirdre Butler of Dublin City University, Ireland "the society that education served years back is different from today’s society."

The world is changing at a very fast pace, presenting also with it complex challenges that need solutions and the schools must rise up by giving students tasks that require them to solve global problems. The existing curricula – which focuses on knowledge production and mastery of content, cannot have a place in today’s world. The news by the President on an ongoing reform in the curricula to address the weaknesses and for that matter the educational crisis facing the country is welcoming, but must be done to reflect the 21st century skills needed globally. In doing so, the emphasis on knowing the information must shift to how students’ access, interpret, analyze, and evaluate information. And at the heart of this is the use of digital tools to advance teaching and learning. The reform must prioritize producing digital literate graduates. We are advancing into a world that will witness all routine jobs automated. The reform must ask one big question: “How are we preparing our students for the future?” The problems facing the country are not the ones that the students can find solutions for from their textbooks. They need digital skills to be able to search for information and find new ways of doing things in order to be part of the solutions to the problems we face. The reform also needs to take a second look at standardize test in the schools. Assessment must be done to measure the child’s ways of thinking, creativity and innovation, collaboration, decision making, problem solving and communication; which are essential skills needed by the child to function in the 4th Industrial Revolution.

The world is not waiting for us; we need the curricula reform to meet the changing demands of the world. Besides, the curricula must emphasize the development of global competence. As highlighted by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), through its Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the schools must be able to help students to examine contemporary issues of local, global, and intercultural significance and live in multicultural societies. This calls for the students examining the world beyond their immediate environment and “take action for collective well-being and sustainable development both locally and globally. The children cannot be part of changing a world that they know nothing about. The Citizenship Education subject should be restructured to deliberately make provision for them to be knowledgeable about the world. It must also offer them the opportunity to be both local and global citizens. This reform is an opportunity for the country to address the crisis in the education system and it must be done having in mind the needs of the 21st century learner.

By: Divine K. Kpe (Certified Microsoft Innovative Educator and Multi-Award Winning Educator) 
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President's State Of The Nation Address Delivered In Parliament

Characterised by heckling from some members of Parliament and occasional humorous interventions by the President, the State of the Nation Address touched on all sectors of the economy. Issues raised included reduction of inflation, stabilisation of the exchange rate, tax reduction and choking of the economy by huge debts. For the business sector, the reduction of inflation and taxes as well as the stabilisation of the exchange rate were most welcome because the economy needs to encourage business growth. One problem, however, was the huge debts that have to be paid to free the economy and encourage it to perform soundly. The President also referred to protection of the public purse which is necessary to ensure that monies that often leak into private pockets are gathered to promote national economic growth. The ‘Free SHS’ introduced by government and the payment of some of the outstanding debts have all been possible due to the saving of money in this manner. It is good news that last year 800million Ghana Cedis was saved from the procurement process. If this trend should continue the nation would be able to save much more money to boost activities in the health and education sectors as well as other areas like transport and road construction.

Based on the positive performance of the economy, it comes as no surprise that economic growth increased from 3.6% percent to about 8% last year. Continuous growth is needed to ensure economic stability and tremendous improvement in the welfare of the people. As a result of the solid micro-economic fundamentals, the economy has been described by many local and international experts as fast-growing. It is also good that industrial growth has moved from negative to positive levels. This trend ought to continue if the industrial sector is to experience rapid growth and absorb the teeming unemployed youth.

The State of the Nation Address was reassuring so the various agencies would have to work hard to overcome the numerous developmental issues affecting the country. For instance, actions on Bills for ranches ought to be expedited by Parliament to bring peace regarding the operations of nomadic herdsmen. Similarly, Ghanaians should not allow the degradation of lands in any part of the country. It is for this reason that the President’s reference to the determination to prevent the degradation of lands in the country is also welcoming news. The fight against crime must continue unabated. The release of millions of Ghana cedis to enable the police fight crime sounds encouraging. Again, cyber security is an issue that should not be taken for granted. The fight in this direction ought to be strengthened so that people will feel safe. There is no doubt that the country is faced with numerous economic difficulties but with one accord, unity and a common sense of purpose the country can easily overcome any of the difficulties it is facing at the moment.

Instead of engaging in needless attacks, controversies and fights with one another, the people ought to note that they have nowhere to go but support the President and his team to improve conditions in the country. For this reason, all Ghanaians, whether in government or not have to contribute their quota to make the country great and prosperous as we all expect it to be.

BY: DR. KOFI AMPONSAH-BEDIAKO, DIRECTOR OF CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS, GHANA STANDARDS AUTHORITY.

Need For Students To Stop Vandalising School Property

Discipline is defined by the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary as, “the practice of training people to obey rules and orders and punishing them if they do not”. The 2016/2017 and this academic year 2017/2018, have seen students in Senior High Schools (SHS) in parts of the country taking the law into their hands to demonstrate and destroy school property with careless abandon at the least provocation. The latest of such incident is the closure of the Erimon Senior High and Technical School in the Lawra District of the Upper West Region. This follows what has been described as a violent life-and-property-threatening demonstration by the students who were protesting against disciplinary measures in the school. Reports have it that parts of the dormitories, administrative block and classrooms were damaged in the unrest. Nobody is against students in educational institutions making their grievances known for amicable resolution.The violent nature of such demonstrations to present their grievances and the cost to infrastructure and personal property of teachers is unacceptable and must be condemned in no uncertain terms by all well-meaning Ghanaians.

Last month, at least ten students of the GyamaaPensan SHS in the Ashanti Region were hospitalized when they sustained injuries during a demonstration against the headmaster of the school. The aftermath of the demonstration was the vandalisation of school property, including the headmaster’s residence and the assembly hall. It would also be recalled that in December last year, students of the Fumbisi SHS/Agriculture School in the Bulisa South District of the Upper East Region, rioted because of delayed supper, and vented their spleen on the food store and looted food items. They went ahead to destroy property running into thousands of Ghana cedis with about eleven students sustaining various degrees of injury. Still in the Upper East Region, a violent demonstration by students of the Bolgatanga SHS over the death of a student led to the destruction of about three vehicles belonging to their teachers as well as a teacher’s residence. These are but a few incidents of vandalism in the Senior High Schools and the time has come to nib them in the bud. These disturbing and worrying incidents, apart from the high cost of repairing or replacing damaged property to be borne by the school authorities and, by extension, the government, sometimes have the tendency to disrupt academic work and consequently the performance of students.

One of the problems with the implementation of the Free SHS policy is inadequate infrastructure to accommodate the increasing number of students. It becomes worrying if the same students who are complaining, during demonstrations vandalise the existing infrastructure. As we all expect school authorities to manage students’ grievances properly and professionally, through regular interactions, students must also recognise that as part of their training and upbringing, they must obey the rules, regulations and orders of their various institutions. Parents must also talk to their wards to be of good behaviour in school.

BY: DAN OSMAN MWIN, HEAD OF PUBLIC RELATIONS, MINISTRY OF EDUCATION.

Kwabenya Police Killing

Ghanaians woke up over the week-end to the rather shocking and brutal killing of a Police Officer at the Kwabenya Police Station. This ruthless and needless death brings to eight Police Officers who have met their untimely death in their line of duty this month. This dastardly act has been condemned by all sections of society including the top brass of the Ghana Police Service. This unprovoked attack on a Police Officer, who was performing his mandated responsibility of protecting lives and property has once again provoked a heated debate in the public space about the urgent need to provide the Police Service with the much needed security accoutrements, and administrative materials for the smooth performance of their duties and responsibilities.

The attack and murder of the police Officer at the Kwabenya Police Station by six armed robbers has also brought into sharp focus the level of impunity and indiscipline which has reached unprecedented depth in the social fabric of this country. It may be recalled that not long ago, a political vigilante group called the Delta Force, went berserk and attacked a Kumasi High court, some members of their group who were standing trial accused of manhandling the Ashanti Regional Security Co-ordinator. Recently some security men deployed to flush out Fulani herdsmen and their cattle from Agogo township in the Ashanti Akyem District of the Ashanti Region were ambushed and shot at by Fulani herdsmen leading to the death of four security officers.

There have been a number of unpardonable acts in the past, where Policemen have been attacked by an unruly and angry mob or have been shot at by hardened criminals. These unpardonable acts which are usually unprovoked have not seen solutions from successive governments in terms of equipping the Police to combat crime. The ratio of Police to citizens is woefully below the United Nations recommendations. The ratio in Ghana is one Police Officer to 777 people which is far below the United Nations recommendations of 222 Police Officers to a hundred thousand citizens. This makes Ghana's situation a frightening one.

Aside this, the Police lack basic equipment, logistics and materials to carry out their operations. In a highly digitized technological world, Police intelligence should take over from the old fashioned and archaic method of Policing. Gadgets like Close Circuit Television cameras, Bullet proof vest and combat vehicles should be procured in order to confront an ever increasing and sophisticated criminals who use heavy weapons in their operations.

If these and other innovative methods are not employed then crime combat will be an exercise in futility and all efforts shall be a talkfest and not get to the core of the issues.

By Alfred Hughes, a Broadcast Journalist.