President John Evans Atta Mills has presented awards to 20 pupils, two each from the 10 regions of Ghana for their exceptional academic brilliance during the 2008 Basic Schools Examinations.
This is during the President's Independence Day Awards Ceremony, instituted in 1993 as part of activities to commemorate Ghana's Independence Anniversary Celebrations. This year's ceremony forms part of Ghana's 52nd Independence Anniversary Celebrations.
For winning the President's Independence Day Award, each student will receive a 4-year scholarship to cover boarding and lodging, a cash prize of GH¢400.00, a book prize, a certificate signed by the President and the Minister for Education, a special plaque and dinner for all the award winners and their teachers.
President Mills, in an address reminded the youth of their responsibilities as future leaders and said this year's theme, 'Unity and Peace, Pillars for National Development', is a strong challenge for the youth to see themselves as citizens on whose shoulders, the future development of the nation depend.
The President advised the award winners to be humble in all their dealings, live modest and honest lifestyle as they continue to strive for excellence. He also urged them to respect their parents and teachers, adding that though they must be proud of their achievements, they must not forget that whatever talent they have is from God and should always pray to him for his guidance.
Prof Mills said, President's Independence Day Award Ceremony is the State's way of honouring and encouraging the youth to aspire to greater heights.
'A strong pillar around which the government's agenda will revolve, is investing in people. And there is no better way of investing in people than to give them quality education', he said.
The Minister for Education, Hon Alex Tettey-Enyo, said government will not relent in its efforts to provide best form of educational opportunities for the nation to guarantee a prosperous future.
Government, he said, has demonstrated its total commitment to the provision of accessible, equitable, affordable and quality education for all children irrespective of their location in the country.
The Education Minister said the awards ceremony to reward basic education graduands, is part of a strategy designed to motivate and develop the youth to effectively take up the mantle of leadership of the nation.
In a message for the nation, the children of Ghana paid tribute to the founding fathers and those who continue to support the development of the nation. They commended President Mills for his victory in the 2008 General Elections, the people of Ghana for ensuring peaceful atmosphere after the polls.
The children then appealed to government and people living in conflict areas to help maintain peace for the development of children, and pledged on behalf of their colleagues to work hard at their books for national development.
Pupils from Association International School enacted a short drama that depicted the processes that led to Ghana's independence on March 6, 1957.
Selection criteria for the award winners is based on academic performance in the Basic Education Certificate Examination, participation in co-curricular activities, particularly involvement in school-club activities, sports, community services and leadership roles, exemplary conduct and moral behavior, and other special qualities.