Address by former First Lady Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings at a ceremony organised by The Private Investors Protection Agency at the Sun Lodge Hotel, Accra on Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Mr Chairman, Board of Directors of the Private Investors Protection Agency, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, Good morning.
I am honoured to be part of this occasion and to be asked to speak on such an important topic.
To be able to attract private investment we must begin by looking at our objectives and our priorities. The overriding objective is to attain a highly productive and growing private sector. To achieve this, Ghana, must reorient the economy by my estimation in two ways.
The first is the enhancement of access into a productive formal sector and the second is a change in the structure of the composition of GDP from existing basic dominance to one that is dominated by manufacturing and services.
These structural transformations will help increase per capita real incomes, enhance the export competitiveness based on goods and services and also provide employment for a large segment of the people to ensure a sustainable environment.
But the re-orientation of the economy will and can only be carried out by an empowered population with the requisite skills and knowledge to plan, and produce quality goods and services for export and domestic markets while undertaking productive practices to enhance the economy.
With this in mind how do we attract private investment, while looking at the issue of integrity and honesty?
If Ghana is going to be a major manufacturing country as we keep hearing, then there are certain basic structures and new initiatives that have to be sustained. Policy makers in government need the capacity to formulate and implement policies conducive to the growth and the development of that sector.
Development of economic professionals, institutional strengthening of all ministries, moving away from jobs for party boys and girls and focussing on our priorities (or priority areas), if we can sustain a capacity of critical institutional policy implementation, internal assessment of our programmes, cut out (wastage) waste through time management and efficiency, then we may be on the road to attracting private investment.
Within the area of attracting this investment is the issue of integrity. Integrity is doing the right thing when no one is looking or is around to see what you are doing. Integrity therefore can only be seen in the light of our laws – taxation laws, business laws and other laws that deal with business and see how effective they are. Are we able to plug the loopholes in our tax laws or are they loose? Do we deal with people who actually go against the laws and the people who are responsible for enforcing the laws? Do we do due diligence on companies that come into our country? Do we have the requisite private companies coming in?
Under Article 36 (4) of the 1992 Constitution, it states s follows:
Foreign investment shall be encouraged within Ghana, subject to any law for the time being in force regulating investment in Ghana.
Can we not grow our own young entrepreneurs to become the venture capitalists of tomorrow? This we can do when one considers issues of transparency, participation and competency as a key element of good business.
Sometimes over burdened rules or regulations in a country or establishment can lead to arbitrariness and to some extent the substitution of public purpose with private purpose on the part of the officers exercising the discretion will be reduced.
Present efforts at reducing barriers/ to entry in setting up companies, regulation to foreign trade investment, foreign participation in capital market operations and public service bureaucracy will be refocused and accelerated based on the lessons learnt.
Integrity or transparency is enhanced when information is made accessible efficiently to the public. Mechanisms for encouraging the information flow between government and the governed, between financial or capital market institutions and participants, between foreign investors and the captains of the commerce, trade and industry, between the government and the private sector and indeed between private/public goods providers and beneficiaries can, or should be designed and implemented.
Transparency or integrity is meaningful and useful in an environment where effective solutions exist whether social or political. The role of the judiciary must be strengthened in the resuscitation of conflicts in taxation, individual and private rights in production and distribution, securities and land transactions. This same transparency and integrity also runs through security institutions, especially police, customs and tax companies. These should all be oriented in support of the private sector development. Their understanding of the private sector and what is required to support it should be expanded and improved.
The areas for potential collaboration are to ensure transparency in the functioning and the institutional development of the private sector in attracting private investment.
Distinguished, Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen; it is obvious that to attract private investment from within and without, we have to ensure that we do not relegate the laws and regulations that guide investment to the background. Our country has various legal frameworks that are supposed to protect investment, boost investor confidence and protect businesses from corrupt practices and habits.
We live in a global climate and cannot afford to operate in a vacuum. The buck stops with all us, so let us all play our role in enhancing the investment climate in Ghana.
Nana Konadu spoke on the topic â€˜Development, Politics and National Government â€“ Impact on African Womenâ€™, at the Thunderbird School of Global Management. Located in Glendale, Arizona, the Thunde
President of the Thunderbird School of Global Management, Dr. Larry Penley; Assistant Vice President of Thunderbird for Good, Madame Kellie Kreiser; Distinguished Guests; Ladies and Gentlemen:
I bring you warm greetings from my home country Ghana and from the former President of the Republic of Ghana, my husband President Jerry John Rawlings.
It is a tremendous honor to be here today and to be a guest in this distinguished institution. I would like to express my deep appreciation to the Thunderbird School of Global Management and to Thunderbird for Good for hosting me on this special occasion. I am also delighted to be here in Arizona.
Ladies and Gentlemen: As you may have heard, over the last decade, the global narrative on Africa has slowly been changing — from the negative view of war, disease, poverty, starvation and corruption to the NEW, good news story, that:
Africa is Rising!
In fact, if you look at economic indicators or investor news, you will see evidence of this. Analysts say that:
There is a rising middle class;
That 7 of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies are in Africa
And that in 2013, 12 African countries will see a GDP growth rate above 7%;
This is all very encouraging. It shows a continent that is rapidly growing in spite of the downward trends of the rest of the world – including right here in the U.S.
But let me pause here and pose a question:
Do these numbers of Africa’s growth story tell or give us the full picture?In my experience and opinion, I would argue: no, they do not. GDP, which is a measure of economic growth and progress, does not reflect the life and well being of our people. While the economic boom in African countries is a very true and accurate picture, we would be remiss if we said it represents the WHOLE picture.
Let’s look at Democracy. In Ghana, for instance, as an emerging democracy with an emerging economy, we should look at the complex definition of democracy and see if it is indeed a government of the people by the people and for the people. In many parts of Africa, that definition goes a long way to justify the election of political leaders where every citizen is expected to have an equal right in the selection of political leaders and legislature who then become the voice of the people for a defined period. Simply put, the right of the people to have a voice in the management of their countries and societies is rested in a few selected individuals who are expected to protect the interests of the people.
We can juggle definitions of democracy but true democracy is the process where every individual is involved and convinced that his or her opinion has been factored into the decision-making as far as the management of his or her society is concerned.
A government, irrespective of its mode of appointment, which gives ear to the people and approaches decision-making and policy implementation from a human-centered and continuous consultative process, is closer to democracy than a duly elected government that fails to consult and or treat the opinion of the people with little value.
Emerging democracies or economies are defined as countries with governments that have emanated out of the perceived legitimate democratic electoral process but are still saddled with the complexities of dominant political parties and poorly applied rule of law.
Ladies and gentlemen, many scholars on the subject have listed a few African countries as emerging economic democracies, but I find it difficult not to refer to the whole continent as one that is emerging.
This is because ladies and gentlemen, no true democratic arrangement can slip back into a democratically embryotic state where institutions of the state do not perform effectively or cease to perform, leading to their disempowerment and a weakening of the rule of law.
Again, no true democratic arrangement can be successful if the institutions that are meant to serve as checks and balances are not properly structured and equipped to operate at optimum.
We are indeed grappling with problems of incoherent constitutions and week institutions. There is no doubt that when our democratic structures are instituted in a manner that recognizes the socio-cultural and socio-political context of individual countries and people, it will have a better chance of survival and success.
Management of African countries and societies are still dependent on a system that needs strengthening. We need capacity building, dedicated patriotic governments who will provide leadership of integrity and efficiency to help grow our continent.
As an African woman who has spent her last 30 years working tirelessly with, and on behalf, of our nation’s women and children at the grassroots, I can confidently tell you that this is only half of the story. WHY?
Because . . .. Women are 51% of Africa’s 1 billion people, and they still make up the majority of its poor. Those living in isolated rural communities are not yet part of the good news story.
Together with children, these women often suffer the most, especially in times of crisis and unrest. For the masses of women, Africa is Rising – but slowly and unevenly – and, unfortunately, many women are not rising with it.
In some African countries, poverty has increased in spite of GDP growth. According to the African Development Bank, 61% of Africans still live below the $2 poverty line—and the majority of these people are women. So, yes, Africa is rising, but major challenges still abound: the need for inclusion and opportunity; the need for jobs; the need for equal access to healthcare and education.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I firmly believe the transformation of Africa rests largely on inclusive development—and that is why Empowerment and the Sustainable Well-being of the African Woman is at the heart of my mission.
Over the years, we have made tremendous gains to this end in Ghana. In 1982, when the nation was in a very fragile state, my organization, the 31st December Women’s Movement, was founded on the belief that when you empower a woman, you empower a nation. We have come a long way since then. And today Ghana is considered a shining star in Africa and we are proud of the progresses made. But in order to appreciate where we – as a nation and as a continent – are going (and to ensure we don’t slide back), we mustn’t forget where we came from, especially with regards to our development.
We need to focus on human-centered development that will produce economic growth and prosperity in a country. Let us start with education. It is an accepted fact that no country can grow without an educated population; and modern development requires not just basic traditional education, but specialized education that keeps pace with technological change.
One of the important human rights entrenched in national constitutions and international conventions, is the right of every human being to education; for the acquisition of knowledge and occupational skills.
In the practical manifestation of this “Right to Education”, the universal fact is that women – who constitute more than 50% of the population in several countries – have always lagged behind men by sometimes as much as 25% – 30% in education. The moral need for all countries to correct this imbalance between male and female education is one factor that predisposes the priority on female/women’s education.
The development and effective utilization of a country’s human resource requires that all social groups have equal opportunity for meaningful participation in the country’s economic production and nation-building efforts.
Education is obviously the most vital means of equipping individuals with the necessary nation-building knowledge and skills. It is therefore imperative and a moral need for all African countries to prioritize education for both male and female children.
Where a substantial proportion of the country’s population, especially women, is excluded from such participation, the inevitable negative result is the drastic loss of Human capital.
The conventional wisdom by an African educationist – in fact a Ghanaian who was a teacher in my old school that “one educates a nation by the education of a woman” is not a fable or just a saying.
In both theory and practice, the social benefits of this saying have been amply demonstrated. In the social sciences, the “Demographic Transition Theory” was advanced as far back as the 1960’s to show that, as more women of a society became educated it is not only their economic and political integration into the modernized areas of society that is enhanced, but also the beliefs, practices and attitudes, which constitute a fundamental impediment to modernization, is removed. For instance, an educated woman is more likely to resist the influence of negative traditionalism in any way.
We can say that the position of the African woman in education has improved significantly in the years following African independence.
Today, we take it for granted when we find African women as university professors,leading doctors in national hospitals and prominent professional businesswomen. That is good. But educational development in Africa is not impacting on women as effectively as it does on men.
Girls are taken out of school to help in economic activities such as helping mothers sell in the market or work on farms
Marrying girls off at an early age is still a common practice.
The rationale? Choosing to educate boys rather than girls is done on the assumption that it is more economically profitable to do so because the boy will become a breadwinner while the girl is married off.
Even when women were able to advance beyond the sixth year in school, in many African countries including Ghana, old practices restricted the advancement of women.
In addition to these restrictions, the traditional beliefs that certain professions are not for women persist so that in spite of all the progress made, most women are discouraged from entering into higher institutions for engineering, medicine and science and mathematics related disciplines.
A survey of these departments in African universities will confirm the imbalances.
In Ghana, we are encouraging more girls to study science and mathematics and to pursue higher academic studies. Our experience suggests that because the barriers to women’s progress include deep-seated prejudices and long-standing practices, it is only where there is strong, high-level political commitment and involvement that real progress is possible.
Again, in Ghana, serious educational reform programs were initiated where the government from 1987 sought to reinforce its commitment to female education by:
So, indeed, an important step had been taken towards the achievement of gender balance in the curriculum. For us in Africa, the girl child is of special concern….hers is the future that is often negated right from birth; and hers is, therefore, the life that must be salvaged.
Through Ghana’s example and insistence in getting the girl child’s issue into the critical areas of the “Beijing Women’s Conference of 1995” to be accepted by the whole world is a major step in addressing gender imbalances in several sectors.
This special emphasis on girls’ education meant that a strategy had to be adopted to make implementation smoother.
Some of the strategies implemented at the moment in Ghana are;
To ensure the effective implementation of the above strategies, the girl child’s educational unit has been established within the Basic Education Division of the Ghana Educational Service. (For Example)
Ghana, like other African countries, recognizes the vital role that science and technology can and does play in our socio-economic development.
Education in all societies has been mainly relied on to ensure that they not only survive but seek higher goals. From our experience in Africa, we have been more aware than ever that education can be a tool for subjugation as well.
Indeed our dilemma has been that formal western education, while containing crucial elements for keeping us in touch with rapid technological and economic developments, which control the shape of international relationships, also bears the seeds of disempowerment and dependency. This challenge should tell us in Africa that the assessment of the impact of education on the African continent must always take issues of relevance, as being important as numbers of students enrolled.
Wherever education is discussed, its linkage to development through relevance and empowerment is very crucial because, depending on its content and orientation, it can be harmful or extremely favourable.
A decade later, in a climate of restored hope, confidence, and economic buoyancy, our nation Ghana, certainly made tremendous gains.
But until economic growth and progress is felt by every human being – by every man, woman and child, there’s work to be done. GDP alone, cannot be the blanket measure of overall well being. And, unfortunately, as I continue work with women today in other African countries, I see that some of their struggles are similar, and in some cases, worse, than what we dealt with in Ghana some 30 years ago. This is inexcusable.
With 51%, African Women hold up half the sky, so they are important stakeholders.
So as the continent becomes more prosperous, and more attractive to the outside world, our challenge – and the challenge of our national governments – is to address continuing inequality so that all Africans, including those living in isolated rural communities, fragile states and poor urban areas, are able to benefit from economic prosperity. To reduce inequalities, African governments must actively pursue and prioritize an inclusive and sustainable growth agenda.
And such is one reason I am here today:
Because this is a task too large and too important to be left alone to the government. So it is up to us, the women of Africa, to also bear the responsibility for actions needed to end poverty—first in our homes, then in our communities and, ultimately, throughout our nations, one woman at a time.
I would, therefore, like to end here with a Call to Action for each of you, especially the students. At Thunderbird, the world’s premier international business school:
You are the future global business leaders. As you leave here and go out into the world, you will be making decisions that will impact, not only your business, but also on the people of local communities. Remember GDP alone cannot measure well being. So no matter where you go, please make sure to pay attention to how your business impacts a nation’s people, especially the women and children of local communities.
Address By Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings, Former First Lady at the Launch of The University Of Education SRC Week â€“ Winneba, April 11, 2012
Mr. Chairman, Hall Tutors, students, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:
It is an honour to join you here today as you launch activities marking your SRC Week.
As Ghana’s foremost university for the training of professional educators, it is only appropriate that the theme for the celebration is: “THE ROLE OF THE UNDERGRADUATE IN PROMOTING QUALITY EDUCATION THROUGH PEACE AND COHESION”.
Ladies and gentlemen, I will like to rearrange your topic to read as, “Peace and Cohesion should transcend partisan politics to positively promote education”.
Let us go into our historical past for a few minutes – I remember in 1982 when it became absolutely necessary to look at the Ghana education system, (in spite of the fact that Dr. Nkrumah had built a number of schools in Ghana) when through mismanagement,corruption and economic decadence Ghana was declared a collapse state, everyinstitution including the education system collapsed.
· Infrastructure collapsed or became dilapidated.
· Teachers all left Ghana to Nigeria (Agege), Sierra Leone, and even to Liberia. If South Africa had not had an apartheid system, perhaps many Ghanaian teachers would have gone there as well.
· Most classrooms were empty of teachers.
· Children who remained in school and did not or could not pass the then Common Entrance Examination to enter the secondary schools had to continue to standard seven (7) middle school level certificate.
· Most children by that time who had not been helped by parents or guardians to enter secondary school could hardly read or write. In fact we were turning out children who were illiterates but claimed to have gone through school.
· No child had un-torn uniforms and some had different shirts and shorts since the clothing was khaki on khaki, and the clothing factories had all collapsed and were therefore not in production. Children in government schools wore no shoes or even ‘charle wote’.
· Teacher training colleges were churning out teachers who themselves were semi illiterate, had no tools to learn with, definitely no tools to teach with and most of them left our shores for greener pastures even if it was to be house staff for Nigerian families.
· The system in the training colleges collapsed as the trainers also left and abandoned the teacher colleges and schools to their fate since there were no tools to instruct anyone who came for teacher training.
· In fact from 1965-1982/83 the educational system in Ghana saw nothing but a downward spiral trend with nothing to stop it till we saw the 31st December Revolution.
Some historians are doing a disservice to this country by not bringing out the truth about the political, social and economic history of this country for young people to know where we have come from and be part of where we are going. For example;
· How the educational system collapsed?
· How the educational system was reconstructed to become strong again?
· How the JSS and SSS system was introduced?
· How the Polytechnics were increased in number, under the PNDC and improved to accommodate the excess number of students from the secondary schools?
· How teacher training was re-introduced and improved?
· How nursing training and Midwifery were all restructured and reintroduced in a better way?
Today, having introduced the JSS system, it should have been allowed to run for at least 20 years with corrective mechanisms to improve lapses as we go along. As changes were made in 2005 or 2006, a very critical look at the curriculum should have been taken. There was absolutely no need to change names.
· Can you imagine the amount of money spent on new letterheads paper for all the schools?
· Reprinting of new certificates to read JHS/SHS not JSS and SHS?
· Have we quantified it in money terms?
· What could we have done with this huge amount of money that went into printing and other books and exercise books?
The biggest lapse was not to have improved infrastructure or structures before increasing the number of years. The issues for our schools are:
· To add more resources
· Improve of teachers facilities
· Improve student learning facilities
· Innovative ways of teaching and training children and making it interesting.
· Discipline and upbringing
· Curriculum – to make students employable.
· And most importantly improving the teacher training institutions for quality training and innovativeness
Education of a nation is highly political but not partisan and it needs a strong political decision for its implementation. I am saying this because without a strong policy support grid, which nudges societal behaviour, and institutional culture in the right direction, the future of society, which rests on a strong educated population, will be grim.
Going through your institution’s website, it was quite instructive to note that the university “is charged with the responsibility of producing professional educators to spearhead a new national vision of education aimed at redirecting Ghana’s efforts along the path of rapid economic and social development. The University of Education, Winneba is expected to play a leading role in the country’s drive to produce scholars whose knowledge would be fully responsive to the realities and exigencies of contemporary Ghana and the West African sub-region” and I daresay the world.
Ladies and gentlemen, what this means is that, once you enroll here as a student, you study to become an educator of our society. You play a significant role in moulding the quality and direction of our society.
Carrying the mantle of an educator, it is your responsibility to equip your students with the ability to think creatively: to think beyond the syllabus you should encourage opposing views to yours since this is a sign of creativity, and you know that society grows on creativity.
For you to be able to graduate as competent but mostly passionate educators who can impact positively on our society a lot of hardwork lies ahead of you not just academically but also emotionally. However, it is the ideals you acquire out of the lecture rooms that will actually mould you into effective educators fit to impart knowledge to our children.
Ladies and gentlemen, for students to successfully achievetheir objective of becoming successful graduates and responsible citizens of society, it is important to build upon your leadership capacities while you are undergoing training. It is imperative for all students not necessarily to pursue leadership positions, but develop leadership skills and capacities through participation in student activities such as clubs, groups, and foras that offer opportunities for students to lead, and learn to work with others while understanding the complexities of delegating responsibility and roles. An educator cannot be efficient if he or she lacks exemplary leadership qualities.
The most valuable of these ideals are truth and integrity. Many of our educators have so much knowledge and have passed out from theirtraining institutions with flying colours but unfortunately, they lack the level of professional integrity required to teach others and make them responsible members of society. Having integrity is not an easy task, sometimes you find yourself standing alone but yet that is the test of integrity.
So my dear young people gathered here, as you celebrate the SRC Week let us use this opportunity to create fora that will instill and inspire us to embrace truth and integrity in our daily dealings. Emotionally there will be times when you may doubt your reasons for being here, but digdeep into your soul, for you are the teachers of society.
When you take the path of truth and integrity, there may be times when you find yourself alone among your peers. But behind you will be thousands of children on whose lives you have impacted positively and who look up to you based on this one principle that you have exhibited.
Ladies and gentlemen, addressing quality education starts with you. As young people still learning to become responsible citizens and in your case responsible educators, I plead with you not to fall for the allure of cheap political influences that are thrown at the youth, but to encourage aprogressive dialogue among your students and among your peers. Let us develop a young population of students who can have positive bipartisan discourse while respecting their individual political persuasion.
If we expect to achieve peace and cohesion then we have to be bold to say no to these allures. Yes, students of voting age have to be politically active. Encouraging political activitism at a young age builds the youth into excellent leaders of tomorrow, but allowing yourself to be corrupted at such a stage in your life is detrimental to the political development of our country.
Let us use occasions such as the SRC Week to re-inculcate in our colleagues the ideal of agreeing to disagree. Tolerance, patience and respect for others rights encourages togetherness. You have a responsibility however young or old you are, to contribute to the political sense of direction of this country and you should not hesitate to offer that contribution.
Mr. Chairman, students, ladies and gentlemen: The primary focus of the student of University of Education is to graduate and become agood educator. I have already mentioned several of the ideals you require tobecome a good educator but primarily you must have good moral character and be ready to sacrifice to improve the lot of society.
Thank you and good luck with your SRC week celebrations.