Noble Task Of Teaching To The Conference Of Teachers' Association
Legon, April 6, 1961
I have watched with considerable admiration, the steady growth of your various participating associations of Science teachers, French Teachers, Teachers of English and the Conference of Heads of Secondary Schools, and the increasingly good influence which these bodies are exerting on the educational life of this country.
Your decision to hold this session is particularly praiseworthy, in that, you as teachers will have the opportunity to see and assess your work in your individual fields and subjects not only in relation to each other’s work, but also to the whole field of education. I am very glad, therefore, to send you this message and I take this opportunity to congratulate you most warmly on the initiative which you have shown in arranging this function.
It is not my purpose in this message to tell how to conduct yourselves in your profession. My purpose is rather to offer you my encouragement in the pursuit of your noble tasks on which the future of the people of this country so much depends.
The importance of education, especially in developing countries like ours today, cannot be over-emphasized. Education is the firmest foundation of all for any national building process. It is therefore the cornerstone upon which rests our surest hope to build in Ghana, a structure of society which will be worthy of a respectable place among the civilized nations of the world.
It is for this reason that, my Government attaches the greatest importance to the development of education at all levels. We will spare no efforts to rid this country completely of illiteracy, and banish from it, the attendant curses of ignorance, poverty, and disease. It is our aim to ensure that, beginning from primary school level, right through up to university level, there is a continuous flow of talent properly directed to meet our every need, and drawing its inspiration from the challenge to make a definite contribution to world civilization and culture.
As you know, I recently announced my decision that there should be established as from the 1st September this year, a system of free and compulsory primary education. The successful implementation of this system, as well as the whole educational policy of my Government, will depend above all else on the loyalty and cooperation and hard work of all the teachers in this country. A democratic and free country demands not only compulsory and universal primary education, but also secondary and higher education for all those who are capable of benefiting from it. It is important that all aspects of our education should be carefully related to the needs of a developing society and geared to the economic, industrial and technological advancement to which we look forward in Ghana.
It is often stated that, the purpose of education is to prepare one for life and necessarily for a particular profession or work. In our present circumstances in Ghana, it is not enough that anyone should acquire knowledge for its own sake. We are not impressed by the mere acquisition of knowledge. Such knowledge becomes impressive only when it is applied to achieve positive and practical results for the benefit of mankind.We therefore rely upon you in the course of your works as teachers of the young people of this country to inculcate in them at the same time that spirit of service without which their knowledge, however great, will remain completely barren.
It is the aim of my Government to create gradually, a socialist system of society in which every individual will have the greatest opportunity of developing his talents and ability to the utmost. In this society, the State will also expect the utmost service from every individual. We rely on you, headmasters and teachers, to provide and show to the young people and students of Ghana, a worthy example of this spirit of service. We have every right to expect that the students under you should by your example identify themselves with the political and economic aspirations of the people of Ghana.
We are now entering an era of rapid scientific, economic and technological development in Ghana. It is no secret that it is the aim of my Government that this country should be industrialized as soon as possible as a complement to our agricultural development. We realise, however, that the achievement of this aim will be dependent in large measure on the speed with which our educational system can turn out the men and women who will be required for the implementation of our projects. I refer here also to the lack of an adequate supply of qualified students to our institutions of higher learning. This difficulty has been brought to our notice by the Commission on University Education which was recently appointed by the Government. In view of the importance which the Government attaches to this matter, I have decided to appoint a commission as soon as possible to examine the entire structure of education in Ghana. It is hoped that this commission will be composed of educationists who have had experience of educational development in areas of rapid social, economic and technological change.
It is well known that education in Ghana has been considerably expanded within the last ten years. During this period, we have tried to adapt the educational system to meet the rapid changes taking place in our country. The provision of full sixth form facilities, the introduction of French as a compulsory subject in secondary schools, and the increasing bias in the secondary school curriculum towards science, mathematics and allied subjects, have all been carried out in accordance with this policy. But much more remains to be done.
It is necessary that technical courses should be provided at all levels in addition to the "grammar school" type of course which now exists. We need in fact to expand at all levels. At the primary level, we have to aim at a completely literate working population. We need to expand the teacher training system to provide the teachers for universal education. We need also to expand the secondary school system itself to feed our universities continuously. Facilities for technical education should be extended so that our industrialisation can move forward without over-dependence on imported skills. We need finally to expand and adapt our university system to provide a greater variety of courses which will have relevance to the needs of our country.
As an illustration of what measures the Government is taking to meet these needs, training colleges, for instance, have been asked to increase their enrolment by various methods, and day training colleges will be opened shortly. In accordance with the gigantic Second Development Plan launched by the Convention People’s Party Government two years ago, new secondary schools have been established throughout the country.
The Ghana Educational Trust which I established to build Ghana schools and colleges is doing magnificent work. The Trust has so far built thirteen new secondary schools, has rehoused five others, and will be opening eight more in September this year. As a result largely of the work of this body, the number of secondary schools within the public system has risen from 39 in 1960 to 59. The annual increase in pupil intake to forms one and two has been most encouraging, and is now well over 4,000.
The Government is fully aware of the extra burdens and the difficulties in staffing which this expansion has brought in its train. Your problems about qualified staff, particularly in science, mathematics and French, are well known to me, and my Government is taking the necessary steps to remedy the situation.
I am pleased to say that as an indication of the value and importance which my Government attaches to associations such as yours, it has been decided that the sum of £G1,O0O should be provided for you next year to assist your associations.
Finally, I wish to assure you of my Government’s appreciation of the vital role which you have played in the development of Ghana and to express the hope that we can continue to rely on your cooperation and advice in the exciting task of developing Ghana. I congratulate you again for arranging this conference and I wish you success in your deliberations.