The Okyenhene Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin has lauded the government’s Free Senior High School policy.
Speaking at a durbar in honour of the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Christopher Keith Rowley, the leader of Akyem Abuakwa state, while praising the policy, noted that it “is a demonstration of our leader’s commitment to ensuring quality and accessible education to every child…”
“Today every single child in every public high school in Ghana has free education. And, not only that, nearly 800,000 of them are boarders, who also enjoy free education,” he stressed.
The Okyenhene also highlighted the fact that education was free in Dr. Rowley’s country from the basic to secondary levels, and at the tertiary level, adding “the quality of your graduates are also as good as anywhere else in the world.”
“We wish to use this opportunity to seek some academic collaboration between our own, University College of Environment and Agriculture established here, at Bonsu, by this house, under my leadership, as we seek to turn this young university into a centre of excellence,” he said.
“We will continue to urge you, the political leaders of our two countries to continue investing the revenues from our mineral resources in improving the quality of life of the people, through education, health and infrastructure,” he added.
Read his full address below
ADDRESS BY HIS ROYAL MAJESTY THE OKYENHENE OSAGYEFUO AMOATIA OFORI PANIN ON THE OCCASION OF A GRAND DURBAR IN HONOUR OF THE RIGHT HONOURABLE PRIME MINISTER OF THE REPUBLIC OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO RT. HON. DR. CHRISTOPHER KEITH ROWLEY AT THE FORECOURT OF THE OFORI PANIN FIE, KYEBI. THURSDAY 5TH MARCH 2020
The Right Honourable Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Christopher Keith Rowley, Queenmother of Akyem Abuakwa, Nana Dokua, Honourable Ministers of State, Honourable Members of Parliament, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, Nananom, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen.
It is with joy that we welcome Dr Keith Rowley, Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, to Kyebi, the capital of one of the ancient Kingdoms of Ghana, Akyem Abuakwa.
We may be a small Kingdom, but like mighty Trinidad & Tobago, we are known to punch hard and high above our physical weight. Many of the notable intellectuals who lit up the Pan-African torch were from Trinidad & Tobago. Permit me to name but just three. The 19th century lawyer and writer, Henry Sylvester Williams, the illustrious writer and historian, C.L.R. James, and one that we, Ghanaians, have claimed to be our own, but born in the small town of Arouca, the great and mighty George Padmore.
Here in Kyebi, three of the so-called Big Six, who were prominent in Ghana’s struggle for independence, whose images can be found today on our currency, the Cedi, were from this very royal house, with one through marriage, the father of our current President. Namely, Dr J B Danquah, whose research gave us our name Ghana; William Ofori-Atta, and Edward Akufo-Addo.
Indeed, I would suspect if we looked deep into it, Mr Prime Minister could probably trace his own roots to Adadientem, a village just a walking distance from this ancient capital, Kyebi!
Such is destiny, that just a few years ago, some 6,700km away from Kyebi, in Port of Spain, a little boy from around this area, Akyem Oda, Sean Woodham, the son of a Ghanaian emigrant, Gabby Woodham, ended up in the same primary school with Tonya and Sonel, the beautiful daughters of Prime Minister Keith and Sharon Rowley, at the Bishop Anstey Junior School, Port of Spain. Tonya is now a lawyer and Sonel a neuropsychologist and artist.
And, this fact, underlines what is the most important consideration of leadership: how we build our children for the future.
Trinidad and Tobago can boast of being one of the most educated countries in the world, with a literacy level nearing 100%. The real wealth of a nation is her people and the future lies in the education, skills and values that society passes on to the young people on whose backs and minds the pillars of national progress, unity and development are to be built. The needs of the education for our youth cannot be postponed, de-prioritised or relegated.
It is for this reason that the world, especially, mineral rich nations, must learn good lessons from small but mighty Trinidad & Tobago. We must invest earnings from finite resources such as oil, gas, timber, gold and bauxite, in improving our communities and our people for a better future. It is not our right to deplete the resources that we inherit and deny future generations better benefit from our exploitations today.
Mr Prime Minister, indeed, your country leads in providing free and quality education, made possible because of the investment choices of the leaders. In Trinidad, education in primary and secondary schools are free; university education, including medical school, is mainly free. The quality of your graduates are also as good as anywhere else in the world.
We wish to use this opportunity to seek some academic collaboration between our own, University College of Environment and Agriculture established here, at Bonsu, by this house, under my leadership, as we seek to turn this young university into a centre of excellence.
For our part as Ghanaians, we are grateful to President Akufo-Addo for living up to his promise of Free Secondary Education. Today every single child in every public high school in Ghana has free education. And, not only that, nearly 800,000 of them are boarders, who also enjoy free education.
This is a demonstration of our leader’s commitment to ensuring quality and accessible education to every child, no matter who you are and where you come from. We will continue to urge you, the political leaders of our two countries to continue investing the revenues from our mineral resources in improving the quality of life of the people, through education, health and infrastructure.
Like many areas in Ghana, the economic and social life of the local population usually revolve around resources that are in abundance, as such the people engage in logging, small scale mining, farming and hunting. Okyeman is one of the richest areas in Ghana in terms of natural resources, with abundance of mineral resources including, gold, diamond, bauxite, kaolin, timber, forest estate and biodiversity. It is home to the country’s largest state-owned diamond firm. The area has considerable kaolin and bauxite, which if exploited along the value chain, would easily fetch billions and billions of dollars over a number of years.
Whilst we do not intend to stand in the way of the Government’s constitutional right and duty to exploit these resources for the common good, we as custodians of the land, will want to be convinced that, in the process, no effort shall be spared in preserving our environment.
The activities of the local population and foreigners in inappropriate mining have become a threat to other important resources such as our water bodies and forest reserves. Illegal mining has become a national menace, one that requires the involvement of all to tackle effectively and we will urge the President to not be discouraged by the challenges but continue to win the fight against Galamsey, especially on reclaiming the abused lands for the benefit of the farming communities and the greater good of the environment.
It is, therefore, imperative to ensure a balanced and responsible development of our natural resources to create prosperity and jobs even as we preserve the integrity of the environment for future generations.
So in the extraction process of bauxite, for instance, we do not want to use outdated, pollutants like coal; we would rather the use of cleaner fuels, like gas, which would require the construction of pipeline infrastructure and a gas processing plant.
Given the wealth of experience and expertise of T&T in the sector, we would welcome a collaboration between our people on construction, capacity building, knowledge and technology transfer and of course our joint prosperity. That is why we are happy to hear that coal shall not be used in the business of refining our bauxite. But, that gas is the preferred option. This could mean business for your country, Mr Prime Minister, as Trinidad & Tobago is renowned for building one of the best gas industries anywhere in the world.
There is a lot our two countries are doing right and there is a lot we can learn from each other as we both try to do better. Here in Ghana, we believe development and modernity, on one hand, can go hand in hand with the preservation and celebration of our traditions, customs and values, on the other hand. We know our roots and we know our branches, which spread far to lands like Trinidad & Tobago.
Much like the beautiful and peaceful diversity of T&T, home to different cultures and ethnic backgrounds all bound by their national identity and pride, so too has my homeland Akyem Abuakua played its part as a unifying force in our nation’s history. Over the centuries, it has been a refuge, a sanctuary and a land of relative milk and honey to diverse peoples from other parts of the country and beyond looking for a peaceful life and a sustainable livelihood. It is a microcosm of Ghana, a peaceful nation where all tribes, all creed, all races and religions live in peace, harmony and hope.
Permit me to pay glowing tribute to the Government of Mr. Rowley, for the Prime Minister’s tireless efforts at diversification of the economy, despite the abundant petroleum wealth of his country, particularly in the industrial sector. Even within the petroleum sector, your country has shown over the years how to monetize and add value to gas, by using it as feedstock and not just fuel for generating power. We are seeking to do same here in Ghana. Like you, Mr Prime Minister, we also seek to industrialise and diversify our economy beyond natural resources.
The economic and social progress under your Government has made your country a model for national development for oil producing countries in Africa, especially. Particularly, considering that Ghana being a nascent oil producer, she will require strategic engagement with Trinidad & Tobago and I am happy to hear that our President seeks that. As some of you might know, Dr. Rowley is credited for his role in reviving the local natural gas sector and laying the groundwork for further oil and gas exploration, the largest economic sector of Trinidad & Tobago.
Tomorrow morning, Dr Christopher Keith Rowley will be the Special Guest of Honour on the occasion of Ghana’s 63rd independence anniversary salute in Kumasi. We use this opportunity to thank the President of the Republic for choosing Tamale, the capital of the Northern Region, last year, and Kumasi, the capital of the Ashanti Region, this year for this important national celebration. It is great tribute to his quest to keep and build upon the unity and harmony of our dear Ghana.
I want us to end by inviting the people of T&T, the whole of the Caribbean and all Africans in the Diaspora to join Okyeman this December, 2020, to celebrate the maiden annual Afehyia Pa Afa Hye or Good Year Festival. It will be a grand durbar of Kings, Queen-mothers and people of not just Akyem Abuakwa descent, but a comprehensive celebration of the rich cultural diversity of Ghana, with guests and performers from all across Ghana. Come join us celebrate what we expect to be another good year. Afehyia Pa means good year and we see the many years ahead of us to be not just good but greater, especially, as the bond between us and our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora gets stronger and stronger. This indeed is the century for Africa and Africans everywhere. It is the era of our return. It is the century for colour; of rediscovery of ancient drumbeats whose rhythmic resonance have transcended generation and time and continue to guide our feet down ancient paths onto a future of great promise and possibilities; a continued appreciation for the intricate patterns skillfully woven into the rich fabric and culture of our deeply diverse and all-encompassing societies.
Ladies and Gentlemen, please join me to give a warm welcome to Right Honourable Keith Rowley, his wife Sharon and the entire Trinidadian and Tobagonian delegation fand to extend my best wishes to his family, and Government and People of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
May God Bless Okyeman,
May God Bless Ghana
May God Bless Trinidad & Tobago