This Year's Northern Easter School began in Tamale at the weekend, with a call on participants to deliberate and come out with pragmatic strategies that could help to achieve sustainable peace in the Northern Region for accelerated development.
"It is my fervent hope that in your discussions of the achievements, challenges and way forward for this country, you will spend some time to consider the conflict situations in the region as the major constraints to development and how best to prevent them or deal with them when they do occur,'' the Northern Regional Minister, Alhaji Mustapha Ali Idris, exhorted participants in a speech read on his behalf.
The minister further asked them to develop ideas and suggestions that would urge on the people of the region and also empower them to turn the fortunes of the area around as the nation embarks on the difficult journey to its centenary anniversary of independence.
It is on the theme, ''Northern Ghana after Independence: Achievements, Challenges and the Future.'' Academics, government officials and civil society groups in the north are among participants at the five-day school.
The minister said the theme was appropriate and significant as it provided an opportunity for the people to dialogue, assess their performance and failures in the years gone by, and chart a new course of finding practical solutions to the difficulties that had bedevilled the area in its quest to catch up with its counterparts in southern Ghana.
Alhaji Idris observed that although the region had progressed and developed a great deal since independence in 1957, much could have been achieved without the intermittent conflicts and violence that had occurred over the years.
He noted with regret that it was as a result of the instability situation of the region, which is caused by the recurrent conflicts, that poverty, ignorance and diseases such as the debilitating guinea worm were still prevalent in the area.
The minister was therefore hopeful that at the end of the deliberations, workable recommendations would be found to tackle the prevailing difficulties in achieving lasting peace in the region and stall any possible conflict situation that might arise in future.
The acting Director of the Institute of Adult Education of the University of Ghana, Mr Reuben A. Aggor, who presented the progress report on the school, described this year's patronage as not very encouraging.
He therefore appealed to district assemblies, institutions and the general public to take interest in the School's activities to upgrade themselves to enable them to put in their best at their respective workplaces.
The director further explained that the programme had, in the past, addressed matters of national concern and so it was important for people to participate in it to widen their scope of knowledge.
Mr Aggor announced that the University of Ghana would soon extend its Distance Learning Programme to all regions in the country to make it possible for adults to seek higher education.
Story by Zakaria Alhassan