From Francis Owusu-Ansah, Sunyani
The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has announced that 1.2 million students will benefit from the Free SHS programme from September this year.
The Free SHS programme was introduced in 2017 and accommodated first and second year students in the initial two years. According to the president, the programme will now have all students from SHS 1 to SHS 3 as beneficiaries.
The President said this at the 4th graduation ceremony of the University of Energy and Natural Resources, (UENR) in Sunyani in the Bono Region.
A total of 1,113 students including 885 men representing 79.5 percent and 228 women representing 20.5 percent graduated. Thirty Postgraduate students including one international student from Republic of Chad also graduated.
Nana Akufo-Addo said: “In all, 1.2 million children will be enrolled in our High Schools across the country under the policy, making it the largest number of students so enrolled in our history.”
He indicated that, “it is inevitable that from 2020, when the first batch of free SHS students graduate, universities and other tertiary institutions in the country will be confronted with the challenge of higher numbers of students seeking admission”.
As a result, government is undertaking a comprehensive programme of expanding infrastructure at the various tertiary institutions to accommodate the expected higher numbers.
This intervention, the President explained, will provide increased opportunities for young people to further their education, pursue their dreams, and, ultimately, contribute their quota to the development of the country. He assured that government will fast the provision of infrastructure for UENR to ensure smooth administration.
He noted that the several GETFund projects on the campus of UENR, which are at a standstill have put enormous pressure on the facilities of the University.
“Chairperson, things will change, and I prefer to let my deeds, not words, do the talking. It is not for nothing that the Minister of State for Tertiary Education is here at this ceremony. His presence is intended to be a guarantee of action,” the president said.
The President continued that as part of efforts to address the infrastructural challenges of the university, a GH¢7.9 million contract has been awarded to Messrs JOFASM to construct access roads in the university within 18 months.
FIGHTING CLIMATE CHANGE
As Co-Chair of the Group of Eminent Advocates for the 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the President commended the University for being at the forefront of developing biodegradable polythene from corn starch which would help to achieve the 17 SDGs.
“With the world confronted with the menace of plastic waste, it is gratifying to note that UENR is at the forefront of developing biodegradable polythene from corn starch,” he said.
In helping to deal with the effects of climate change, the University is the only institution of higher learning in West Africa to have installed a fire monitoring laboratory, under the Earth Observation Research Innovation Centre (EORIC), to monitor, detect and predict wildfire and floods in the Region.
“It is not a surprise that the University has become one of the World Bank’s Centre of Excellence in energy and environmental sustainability in Africa. We can only urge you on to chalk more and more of such feats.
Do not rest on your oars, stimulate research in science and technology, and become a resource hub, especially in energy and natural resources in Africa,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo commended the authorities of the University for the decision to establish a Medical School for the training of doctors not only to serve the three regions of Bono, Bono East and Ahafo, but also to serve the towns and communities along the entire western corridor of the country.
Nonetheless, he appealed to “this specialized university to try not to deviate, as others have done, too much from its core mandate of being a natural resource and science and engineering based university, set up specifically to train the critical manpower required for the growth and development of the energy and natural resource sectors of our nation.”
The President applauded the decision by the Governing Council of the University of Energy and Natural Resources to rename the university after Dr. Kofi Abrefa Busia, Prime Minister of the Government of the 2nd Republic.
The decision was taken by Governing Council of the University on 3rd August, 2018, in accordance with the Statutes of the University.
“The decision is an excellent one, which will receive the blessing of the President of the Republic, so that, once the parliamentary process has been completed, this University will, thereafter, be called the K.A. Busia University of Energy and Natural Resources, Sunyani,” President Akufo-Addo said.
PROMOTING TERTIARY EDUCATION
The President assured the gathering that his government is determined to promote tertiary education in the country as a means of equipping the citizens with the tools vital for national development, adding that “we will continue to support institutions such as U.E.N.R.”
Government, he assured, will continue to initiate policies and programmes to enhance the capacity of graduates from the country’s tertiary institutions to contribute to the socio-economic transformation of the nation.
“It is my expectation, and that of the Ghanaian people, that U.E.N.R will continue to produce graduates who are moulded to take on the opportunities and possibilities for higher achievement, through innovation and creativity, in today’s science and technology-led, knowledge-driven global economy, and who will, thereby, help generate prosperity for the mass of our people in our time,” the President stressed.