Tomorrow is May Day, a day on which Socialists and the working class movements all over the world re-dedicate themselves to the ideals of work and happiness for the people. On this occasion, it is fitting that we in Ghana should renew our determination to build our country in such a way as to create opportunity for work for all.
It is fitting that we should reflect, at this time, on the national goals we have set before us and examine whether the conditions we are providing in our society are such as to enable our men and women, particularly our youth, to play their full part in this task of national reconstruction.
This is why I want to speak to you tonight, particularly about some of the things we can do to help our young men and women to make full use of the opportunities available to them, and thus prepare themselves for the future. In a few months from now, we shall launch our Seven-Year Development p Plan, which is intended to transfer Ghana into a modern, industrial state. But even now, it is admitted by those who visit us that our progress has been remarkable and impressive. Look around you, and see our new factories, hospitals, schools and Universities springing up all over the country. There is hardly a remote village which has not benefited already from the great strides made in our progress and development.
But what is all this advancement for, if we do not support and sustain it with a strong moral and spiritual-foundation. If we combine moral degeneration with technological and scientific progress, then Ghana will surely fail. This of course has been the lesson of history. Look at the temperament, attitude towards work, honesty and integrity of the men and women of any people, and you have a good indication how low or how high is the moral and spiritual quality of the nation.
Many foreigners who come to Ghana are genuinely impressed by the obvious signs of progress they see around them. They also admire the cheerful spirit and enthusiasm of the men and women in the streets. This leads them to expect a high standard of efficiency, hard work, responsibility and energy from us whether in the offices, work-places, factories, farms, building sites, shops and public counters, in the streets, lorry parks and taxi ranks. But what do they find?
Their first experience on the telephone disillusions them. Some of our telephone girls, who are normally so friendly, polite and well-behaved at home, are often rude and abrupt when dealing with subscribers. In the shops, the assistants ignore customers while they chat among themselves and treat them with nonchalance and disrespect, forgetting that, but for these same customers, they would not be in employment.
The conditions are no better in the public services. Those who go to the Post Offices to buy stamps, postal orders or take delivery of parcels know this so well. Look at our hospitals where the very lives of the people who may be our own fathers and mothers, or husbands and wives, or brothers and sisters may depend on the care and attention they receive. Even here, you will sometimes find such inhuman disregard for pain and suffering as to make you shake your head in shame.
Look at the laziness and insolent attitude of many of our boys and girls or our young men and women at work and in the public places. Surely, with all the opportunities provided by the State for them, our young people should be more vigorous and responsible than this.
I am appalled at the reports that reach me about the behaviours of our young women in the bars, dance halls, and other public places. These young women will be the mothers of the next generation, and they have a duty to themselves and to Ghana to maintain the highest standard of health, decency and morality in our society.
Countrymen, this sort of attitude to life and work is not only anti-social, it is criminal, it cuts at the very roots of our national life. All must emulate the example of the many devoted and dedicated men and women among us to whom work is more than merely to earn a living.
I have also been greatly concerned about the falling standards of courtesy and politeness among our youth. These days, we seldom hear the words “thank you" or "meda wo ase.” we take kindness and goodwill for granted. We no longer say, “yes sir” or “no sir” to our elders.
Countrymen, we must all work to revive those virtues and values in our society on which our fathers based their high standards of moral conduct and behaviour.
The Young Pioneer Movement is already doing a great work in inculcating in the youth of Ghana a true spirit of humility, of service and of devotion to the country.
Plans are ready for establishing very soon, a Gliding School at Afienya, which I hope will attract many of our youth. The training will give them a sense of self-reliance, and adventure which will be of great use to them in their life and work.
In order to help inculcate more deeply these ideals in our youth and to ensure that our youth grow up upright and respect all the good things which make life worthwhile, I have directed that every morning, the Ghana flag should be raised at all schools at the morning parades, and that the pupils say this national pledge with raised hands:
“I promise on my honour to be faithful to Ghana, to serve her with all my strength and with all my heart; and in all things to uphold Ghana’s good name. So help me God."
The Government has also decided to introduce as soon as possible, a system of national training. This training will be so arranged that, immediately prior to admission to Secondary Schools, all male children will do a three-month period of national training. At the end of secondary school course and prior to attendance at a University, they will undergo further three-month training;
Furthermore, all University graduates on leaving the University will do six months training before taking their places in life of our society. The purpose of this scheme is to inculcate in our young people and our youth, the virtues and disciplines such as the spirit of service, love for work, a sense of responsibility and dedication of devotion to Ghana and Africa, of respect for our elders and superiors, and of self-discipline and earnestness. I am of the firm opinion that this national service scheme, if fully and properly implemented, will give our youth not only physical health, but mental, spiritual and moral upliftment.
Let us remember that the eyes of the world are upon us in whatever we do. We have been able through our united effort to set the pace for the liberation and unity of our continent. We must therefore strive to uphold and maintain the force and influence of the African revolution to which we are so deeply committed. We cannot do this, unless we can produce young men and women with the highest ideals of work and service to the nation and to our great continent.
I hope that all existing organisations, especially the Churches, which have the moral welfare of our people at heart will do part in this national crusade for the moral and spiritual advancement of our people.
I wish you all a happy May Day celebration.