Access to education is the surest way by which the world can foster a sense of cohesion and solidarity among displaced persons, especially the young ones, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said.

The President said education was the key to human development and one that widened life’s options for individuals, adding that it was the hope of parents that education would help their children escape poverty and create an enabling environment that would spur them on to lead purposeful and dignified lives.

He was delivering the keynote address at the 2017 World Innovation Summit for Education, in Doha, Qatar, on Thursday, on the theme “Asset over Burden – Education for Refugee Youth”.

He bemoaned the plight of the 66 million people forcibly displaced all over the world, out of which some 23 million are described as refugees.

“The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in a report, notes that ‘refugees are five times more likely to be out of school than the global average. Only 50 per cent of refugee children have access to primary education, compared with a global average of more than 90 per cent’,” he said.

President Akufo-Addo continued, “The gap, according to the same report, widens, as these children become older, ‘with only 22 per cent of refugee adolescents attending secondary school compared to a global average of 84 per cent. At the higher education level, fewer than one per cent of refugees attend university, compared to 34 per cent at global level.”

This, he said, was unacceptable, decrying the “tens of millions of young refugees growing up without the needed skills to create a meaningful life for themselves…” as a dangerous one.

“If the noble goal of the SDGs is to ensure that no one is left behind, and, among others, to guarantee education for all, then we must seek to empower those left behind as a result of conflict and war. We should commit ourselves to building a world where every child has the opportunity to better him or herself, and, by so doing, better the global community,” he added.

 Africa must industrialise

President Akufo-Addo noted that Africa was the world’s second continent with the fastest economic growth rates, world’s fastest-growing region for foreign direct investment and possessed nearly 30 per cent of the earth’s remaining mineral resources.

Yet, he said, it was disheartening to find that African youths did not see a future in their respective countries, and were willing to cross the Sahara desert on foot, occasionally drowning in the Mediterranean Sea, desperately, all in search of a better life in Europe.

He attributed the situation to the structure of majority of African economies, which are dependent on the production and export of raw materials that invariably, cannot produce wealth and prosperity for the masses on the continent.

“It, therefore, drives the determination to seek a much better standard of living out of Africa, thereby, fuelling the refugee crises and the numerous counts of illegal migrations,” President Akufo-Addo said.

“What the evidence from history and the experience of many countries has shown is that it is not natural resources that build nations. It is people who build nations. It is not gold, cocoa, diamonds, timber or oil that is going to build Africa. If it was, it would have done so already. It is Africans, especially the youth of today, who are going to build Africa,” he said.

Free SHS Policy

President Akufo-Addo said it was in response to the unfortunate situation that Ghana, under his administration, had placed premium on education, leading to the introduction of the Free SHS policy.

“All this is being done, because we want to throw open the doors of opportunity and hope to our young people, and help build a new African civilisation, governed by the rule of law, respect for individual liberties and human rights, and the principles of democratic accountability, which will provide the basis for the new Africa of prosperity and dignity, no longer dependent on aid or charity,” President Akufo-Addo stressed.

Source: ISD (Rex Mainoo Yeboah)