The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has indicated that, in his view, access to education is the only way by which the world can foster a sense of cohesion and solidarity amongst displaced persons, especially of those of school going age, and, help create for them, an enabling environment, which will spur them on to lead more purposeful and dignified lives.
According to President Akufo-Addo, education is the key to human development and to widening life’s options for individuals and society as a whole, stating that it is the hope of every mother and father that education will help their children escape poverty and give them access to a good life.
However, the President indicated that this is not the case for the 66 million people forcibly displaced all over the world, out of which some 23 million are described as refugees.
“The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in a report, notes that ‘refugees are five times more likely to be out of school than the global average. Only 50 per cent of refugee children have access to primary education, compared with a global average of more than 90 per cent’,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo continued, “The gap, according to the same report, widens, as these children become older, ‘with only 22 per cent of refugee adolescents attending secondary school compared to a global average of 84 per cent. At the higher education level, fewer than one per cent of refugees attend university, compared to 34 per cent at global level’.”
This, the President stated, is not right, as “the spectre of tens and tens of millions of young refugees growing up without the needed skills to create a meaningful life for themselves is a dangerous one.”
President Akufo-Addo made this known on Thursday, 16th November, 2017, when he delivered the keynote address at the 2017 World Innovation Summit for Education, in Doha, Qatar, on the theme “Asset over Burden – Education for Refugee Youth.”
As co-Chair of the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals Advocates Group of Eminent Personalities, the President stated that “if the noble goal of the SDGs is to ensure that no one is left behind, and, amongst others, to guarantee education for all, then we must seek to empower those left behind as a result of conflict and war. We should commit ourselves to building a world where every child has the opportunity to better him or her self, and, by so doing, better the global community.”
Africa must industrialise
With Africa having the world’s second fastest economic growth rates, the world’s fastest-growing region for foreign direct investment, and in possession of nearly 30 percent of the earth’s remaining mineral resources, President Akufo-Addo said it is disheartening to find that African youths do not see a future in their respective countries, and are willing to cross the Sahara desert on foot and drown in the Mediterranean Sea, in a desperate bid to reach the mirage of a better life in Europe.
He attributed this situation to the structure of the majority of African economies, which are dependent on the production and export of raw materials, economies, he added, cannot produce wealth and prosperity for the masses on the continent.
“It, therefore, drives the determination to seek a much better standard of living out of Africa, thereby, fuelling the refugee crises and the numerous counts of illegal migrations,” he said.
“What the evidence from history and the experience of many countries have shown is that it is not natural resources that build nations. It is people who build nations. It is not gold, cocoa, diamonds, timber or oil that is going to build Africa. If it was, it would have done so already. It is Africans, especially the youth of today, who are going to build Africa,” he said.
It is for this reason, he told the gathering, that Ghana, under his administration, has placed a premium on education, leading up to the introduction of the Free SHS policy.
“All this is being done, because we want to throw open the doors of opportunity and hope to our young people, and help build a new African civilisation, governed by the rule of law, respect for individual liberties and human rights, and the principles of democratic accountability, which will provide the basis for the new Africa of prosperity and dignity, no longer dependent on aid or charity,” President Akufo-Addo stressed