Africa cannot depend on others to finance education on the continent when it has the wherewithal to do so, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said.
He said Africa has the resources and capacity to finance access to quality education of its citizens, and also promote the continent’s interests.
“If we make our policy dependent on other people, when their policy changes we will suffer. But if we make the policy for ourselves, then it means that at all times we will be in control of our own destiny.”
President Akufo-Addo said this at the Third International Global Partnership for Education Conference in Dakar, Senegal.
The president attended the conference, which seeks to galvanise funds for education in developing nations, at the behest of Senegalese President Macky Sall and French leader Emmanuel Macron.
Both countries co-hosted the event.
President Akufo-Addo noted that even though Africa has enough resources to fund its development, there needs to be elimination of corruption in public life, better arrangements for resource exploitation, and prevention of capital flight from the continent.
“Thabo Mbeki’s Commission, which looked at the illicit flows of capital out of Africa, has estimated that for every year in the last ten years US$50billion gone out of Africa through illicit means. Can you imagine what those monies – if we had our eyes open, and we were not complicit in that illicit outflow – would mean for the capacity of our nations?” he asked.
The president stated that the challenge confronting Africa is “how we can organise ourselves to make sure that the wealth, the huge wealth of this great continent – at least for the first time in modern history – is used on behalf of the continent’s peoples, and not those outside”.
He is confident that “if we are able to close that gap we will come here to Dakar to talk about education, and not the funding of education by others. We will be talking about the quality of our education, the changes we need to make to our curricula, and the emphasis we have to place on our history and sociology.
“So that I am not misunderstood, all those who have been making pledges, it is all to the good. But I think it is extremely important for us to get our whole mindset right. We have within us the capacity to develop and promote the interest of our continent ourselves. Let’s do it.”
President Akufo-Addo said it is ironic that Africa has the youngest population and the richest continent on the planet, but also has the worst living conditions – which he indicated can only be broken by education.
“We are going to have to make sure that every young child, boy and girl, has access to education. Not only must they have access to education, but they must have access to an education that will allow them to be able to address challenges of the 21st century.”
President Akufo-Addo told the Conference that Ghana is determined to open opportunities for everybody.
“So, in the last 5 years before my government came, every year over 100,000 young Ghanaian students were unable to transition from Junior High School to Senior High School – largely because of money. Many of them were fully qualified, but their parents were unable to support their higher education.
“We felt that at this stage in the history of our country, the Ghanaian State should take on that responsibility. So, as from September past, Senior High School education in the public-school system has been made free,” he said.
“What it has done is that the figures have recovered. 90,000 more students entered senior school this year than the year before. It is the first step in ensuring that the educational system in our country, from kindergarten through primary to secondary, and ultimately through university, is open for everybody.”
The president opined that quality education – with greater focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics – will prepare the young population of Africa for life in the 21st century and guarantee the continent’s future.
“We have seen that in the development of economies in Asia – China, India, Japan, and Korea. That is the way forward, to be able to make the transition from being poor to prosperity,” the president added.