President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has reiterated that the surest way to transform Ghana’s economy and reduce unemployment is by paying critical regard to Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET).
Citing the success stories of countries like Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea with whom Ghana began its independence journey, he observed that Ghana could only attain a global giant status with deliberate and heavy investment in TVET, the area for the development of skills needed for a modern economy.
Consequently, he said the government had adopted a strategy to expand technical and vocational opportunities at both secondary and tertiary levels to strengthen the linkages between education and industry and empower the youth to deploy their skills and employ themselves and others.
“This is the reason why the government has placed such importance on guaranteeing access to a minimum of Senior High School education for all Ghanaian children and is laying emphasis in particular on technical and vocational training as a major pillar for development,” he added.
The President was speaking at the 92nd speech day durbar of the St Augustine’s College in Cape Coast on Saturday under the theme: “Redefining Education Delivery in Technological Aid: The Role of St Augustine’s College.”
The event was marked by the commissioning of the school’s renovated and expanded computer laboratory by the President donated by alumni of the school.
He indicated that concrete efforts were underway to disabuse misconceptions that technical and vocational education was inferior and only patronised by financially or intellectually less endowed students.
Among other measures, President Akufo-Addo averred that the government had officially rolled out a ‘Free TVET For All’ programme in addition to its Free Senior High School (SHS) policy which had catered for some 1.6 million students since inception.
He added that the Ministry of Education was currently undertaking cutting-edge policies to achieve it object of 60:40 Science-Humanities ratio enrolment in secondary schools for its transformation agenda.
“The construction of eight model Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) high schools and 20 STEM Centres across the country are at various stages of completion together with the construction of Accra STEM Academy are some of the pragmatic steps the government is taking to promote the advancement of science and technology education in Ghana,” he explained.
The President further announced that the government’s goal of furthering and facilitating the use of technology in the promotion of education in the country was on course.
“While the government does its utmost best to ensure that it provides the requisite tools and environment for learning especially of the model science, heads of schools must supervise teaching and learning, check absenteeism of the teachers and students, and develop any effective strategies to monitor the activities of the school,” he charged.
He also admonished teachers to bear in mind that they were role models to the students and must therefore project excellence to the students.
Addressing the students, he urged them to learn hard, imbibe the values of honesty and integrity, and refrain from acts that could jeopardize their prospects of a bright future.
“Parents and guardians too have the responsibility to advise their wards to exhibit good behaviour in school or wherever they may be. They are partners with the school in educating their children”, he said.
Responding to some requests earlier made by the school, the President pledged the government’s commitment to satisfy all “reasonable requests” including the demand for new science equipment.
“And to commemorate this occasion, I am taking as my personal responsibility, to provide a new 60-seater school bus for the school,” he pledged.
Mr Henry Arthur-Gyan, the headmaster of the school, while presenting a report on the school indicated that St Augustine’s, with the exclusion of first-year students, had a student population of 1,470 comprising 750 in form two and 720 in form three.
He added that the school had a staff strength of 123 regular teaching staff, 12 temporary teaching staff, and 78 non-teaching staff.
Touching on performance, he announced that the school scored 99.36 per cent in the 2021 West Africa Secondary School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), describing the school as a pacesetter.
While expressing appreciation to the government and all other stakeholders, Mr Arthur-Gyan highlighted some challenges of the school and called for immediate support.
A bigger bus, musical instrument for the regimental band, ceremonial dress for the cadet, renovation of teachers’ bungalows and laboratory equipment for robotic activities were among the challenges he outlined.
For his part, Mr Alexander Afenyo-Markin, the Member of Parliament for Effutu and an alumnus of the school, recounted his difficult experience during his days in school as motivation to the students and urged them to be determined in life.
He discouraged any thought of committing suicide or other self-harm owing to hardships, stressing that they could make it through hard work.
“You can be the best businessman you want to be, you can be the richest man you want to be, you can be the most respected politician you want to be, you can be a good teacher and an excellent one for that matter. You have no excuse to disappoint yourself,” he urged.