Vice President Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia has said prioritising education and empowering Muslim communities economically, with functional skills, is critical to alleviating them from extreme poverty and underdevelopment in the country.
To this end, while government continues to pursue measures to resolve economic challenges arising at the back of the current global crisis, he called for sustained efforts to develop human capital through education and skills training.
“With the right educational policies and support for uninterrupted schooling, as we have implemented through the free TVET and secondary school education 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,” he said.
The government’s flagship education policy, he observed, is designed to ensure uninterrupted schooling for every Ghanaian child irrespective of their background.
“This means that every Ghanaian child has the opportunity to, at least, attain secondary education as a starter in life. And the no Guarantor Students Loan Policy is to also ensure that these students can even progress further without any hindrance,” he stated.
Dr. Bawumia, who was the guest speaker at the opening of the 2nd annual National Muslim Conference (NMC), opined that: “Education is the surest way of empowering people, accelerating development and alleviating poverty”. And given this, he added that the government will continue to prioritise it and invest more.
He reckoned that over the years, Zongo communities were not prioritised by successive governments in national policies, and the community was rarely engaged by governments for its home-grown solutions to the myriads of problems it faced.
However, he noted that with his government’s focus on Zongo development through the creation of a statutory development vehicle, the Zongo Development Fund, the establishment of the National Muslim Conference is a step in the right direction.
It will provide a more structured consultative forum between the government and the stakeholders in the Muslim and the Zongo community, he indicated.
Also, he said it would contribute significantly to addressing the challenge of unbalanced growth and development of Zongo communities as compared to other communities, for which their government in particular has implemented policies, including the Zongo Development Fund, to help bridge this gap.
“For our government, bridging the development gaps between less-privileged communities and others is important for the overall growth of our country. Ghana, as a nation, would be the one to suffer if members of its communities grow and leave others behind,” he said.
He said: “Our government will continue to remain committed to our pledge to the people of Zongo,” while adding that: “all efforts must be made to get rid of any form of exclusion, regardless of which community is involved.”
The 2nd annual National Muslim Conference was held under the theme: ‘Toward a Coherent and Holistic Economic Empowerment Strategy for National Development – the Ghanaian Muslim Ummah in Context.”
Chairman of the Muslim Caucus of Parliament, Mohammed Muntaka, also speaking at the opening ceremony, noted that the ultimate aim is to create a forum to enable Ghanaian Muslims to deliberate on how to make communities economically prosperous and eliminate extreme poverty and deprivation in communities.
Among other things, he said there is the need to reform the educational and Makaranta systems to meet the changing demands of time.