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11.07.2004 Education

Adopt mass education policy - varrsity don

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Aboasa (ER), July 11, GNA- The Director of the Ecological Laboratory of the University of Ghana, Professor S.K. Danso, has appealed to the government to consider adopting the mass education concept implemented during the Nkrumah regime as a major programme to reduce illiteracy and poverty.

He said experiences in Ghana and some other countries had revealed that poverty could not be reduced unless the government amongst its strategies implements the concept of mass education.

Prof. Danso made the recommendation at the inauguration of a 250-million cedi library complex for the Aboasa community in the Asuogyaman District of the Eastern Region on Saturday.

Dr Bill Rogers, an American medical doctor and a researcher at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) provided about 75 per cent of the cost of the building, which is stocked with books and computers.

Dr Rogers, who is also a Captain in the United States army, has also established a scholarship scheme for the Aboasa community of which 10 students across the various level of the education ladder are currently benefiting.

Stressing the need for re-adopting the First Republic's "ambitious" fee-free education policy, Professor Danso pointed out that, apart from enabling many people like him, who hailed from deprived communities and with very little financial resources to acquire university education, there was no way poverty could be eradicated without it.

According to him, many Ghanaian academicians of international repute chalking successes on the international scene in their various fields of endeavour owed their current positions partly to that policy.

He described the defunct mass education policy as one of the best programmes the nation had ever undertaken to improve the socio-economic lifestyles of the people as against the current crop of graduates being produced because the "old policy placed emphasis on tapping the capabilities of the learner to be a holistic person."

Explaining the need for reading among students, Professor Danso said it was not enough for students to pass courses solely in their programmes of study, but rather, they must make reading outside their specialized domain part of the learning process.

Acquiring university degrees alone, he observed, would not make students intelligent if they do not come to the realization that "knowledge can be acquired, no matter how educated one is."

In an address read on his behalf, the Minister of Education, Youth and Sports, Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, said government was worried that only 67 public libraries existed nationwide and therefore, welcomed the efforts of well-meaning people like Dr Rogers.

Government, he said, has also taken a grant of 4.4 billion cedis to pay the school fees of all pupils enrolled in basic schools in 14 deprived districts on a pilot basis.

He commended the people of Aboasa for the self-help spirit and said such communal ways of mobilizing resources was a crucial element in moving the nation forward.

The Deputy Eastern Regional Minister, Mr Gustav Narh-Dometey, in a speech read on his behalf, described the project a practical manifestation of government-private collaboration in the socio-economic development of the country.

He advised the pupils to concentrate on using the library judiciously instead of wasting their time at entertainment spots, wake keepings and video centres. The Member of Parliament for the area, Mr Emmanuel Dwamena-Bekoe, said the setting up of the library would be meaningless unless it reflected in the performance of the people in the area.

Dr Rogers, who read his prepared speech in Twi, drawing a lot of applause, promised to build a clinic for the people and urged them to keep their united front.

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