Bolgatanga, April 4, GNA - The Most Reverend Lucas Abadamloora, Bishop of the Navrongo-Bolgatanga Catholic Diocese, at the weekend called for a consistent and integrated long-term development agenda for the three Northern Regions of Ghana in particular and the nation as a whole.
In a keynote address read for him by Father Lawrence Azure at the opening of this year's Northern Easter School in Bolgatanga, Bishop Abadamloora said the problems of under-development and poverty in Northern Ghana are such that piece meal and inconsistent approaches to dealing with them would only stagnate rather than accelerate development.
Unfortunately, Ghana as a nation does not have a long-term plan to which all citizens can commit themselves, although in recent times government has introduced the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS) as a short-to-medium-term plan to address poverty in the country, he added. "Our development plans are left to the mercy of governments, and as governments come and go development priorities and strategies also come and go with them," the Bishop contended.
Bishop Abadamloora cited the slave trade and the deliberate colonial policy of neglect as some of the over-riding causes of poverty in the North.
"The then colonial government declared the North as a labour reservoir to supply able-bodied men to work in the mining, construction and cocoa plantations in Southern Ghana."
Other constraints are environmental degradation, impoverished soils, chieftaincy and ethnic conflicts, migration of skilled labour to the South, bureaucracy and corruption.
On education, Bishop Abadamloora observed that even though there had been a significant improvement in access and basic infrastructure, quality teaching and learning had declined as evidenced by the poor examination results in most of the schools in Northern Ghana.
He indicated, however, that these constraints notwithstanding, Northern Ghana had great potential for wealth creation, and urged district assemblies to forge partnerships with civil society organisations for accelerated development in the three Northern Regions.
Bishop Abadamloora called for the total separation of the district assembly system from partisan politics and the proper implementation of the decentralisation policy, saying that this would help build bridges of trust, respect and peaceful co-existence among local communities. He further urged for the provision of small-scale dams for dry season farming, promotion of small-scale industries, the development of technology as well as the linking of theoretical training and real life experiences in education to help address the challenges of local communities.
The Regional Minister, Mr. Boniface Gambila, said the theme for this year's Easter School, "Wealth Creation for Accelerated Development in Northern Ghana," was in tune with the present government's policy of nurturing a property owning democracy with laws that would guarantee safety, freedom and justice for all.
He said discussions on wealth creation was even more relevant for the people of Northern Ghana where a majority of the population are peasant farmers, with over-used soils, unfavourable climatic conditions and poor farming technology.
Mr. Gambila urged participants to brain-storm on how best agriculture could be modernised to make it attractive to the youth, and to critically examine the challenges to wealth creation in Northern Ghana so as to come out with practicable solutions.
Earlier in a progress report, Mr. R.A. Aggor, Acting Director of the Institute of Adult Education of the University of Ghana, Legon, indicated that the main objective of the annual New Year and Northern Easter Schools was to provide a forum for Ghanaians of all walks of life to discuss issues of national interest, or even set national agenda on pertinent concerns relevant to national development.
Mr. Aggor expressed the institute's determination to continue to organise the Northern Easter School for the benefit of the people in the three Northern Regions, but also expressed concern about the dwindling number of participants in recent times.
He urged district assemblies, civil society organisations, governmental institutions and individuals to help raise the level of participation of the Northern Easter School, in view of the educational opportunities it offers.
Mr. Robert Ajene, a retired educationist and Chairman for the occasion, called on the people of the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions to avail themselves of the opportunities provided by the long distance education programmes of the Institute of Adult Education, saying it would help bridge the education gap between the North and the Southern part of Ghana.
Topics to be discussed during the five-day session include, "Peace, Stability and Wealth Creation and Development in Northern Ghana, Education and Training for Wealth Creation in Northern Ghana, Promoting Tourism for Wealth Creation in Northern Ghana, President's Special Initiative for Accelerated Wealth Creation in Northern Ghana, and Modernising Agriculture for Accelerated Wealth Creation in Northern Ghana.