Bolgatanga, April 13, GNA - Although unfavourable economic and climatic conditions abound in the Upper East, the deprivation and poverty in the area is, to a large extent, an attitudinal problem on the part of the inhabitants.
The Regional Minister, Mr Boniface Gambila, who made this observation at the People's Assembly in Bolgatanga on Tuesday, urged the people, therefore, to change their mind-set and begin to manage the area's resources prudently and profitably.
"Our region is deprived in various ways but that does not mean we do not have the capacity to overcome some of the challenges nature has imposed on us", he said.
Mr Gambila called on the people to refrain from indiscriminate bush-burning, tree felling "galamsey" operations and other negative practices, which over the years, have resulted in deforestation, environmental degradation and their associated hardships such as poor rainfall and low agricultural output.
He announced that the President Special Initiative (PSI) in cotton, sorghum, groundnut oil and crafts would be introduced in the area soon. He urged the people to embrace those initiatives, and appealed to chiefs to release land willingly when the need arises, for the realization of the benefits of the initiatives.
On education, the Regional Minister announced that following consultations with the regional director of education it had been decided that all experienced staff in the district and regional directorates of the Ghana Education Service (GES) be sent back to the classrooms at least once a week to assist the pupils improve upon their performances in the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) and the Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE).
He called on District Chief Executives (DCEs) in the region to give priority to the establishment of libraries and computer laboratories to enable school children to become computer literate by the time they complete JSS.
In a welcoming address, the Bolgatanga Municipal Chief Executive (MCE), Mr Rockson Bukari, announced that the assembly collected 1.1 billion cedis out of a projected revenue figure of 1.6 billion cedis for the 2004 fiscal year, a 10 per cent increase over the 1.03 billion cedis local revenue generated in 2003. Recurrent expenditure as at December 31, 2004 stood at 2.3 billion cedis, he added.
Total receipts from the district Assemblies common Fund in 2004 was 5.7 billion cedis, out of which 510 million cedis went into the provision of educational infrastructure, 328 million cedis into health facilities and 2.5 billion cedis for local government.
Mr Bukari further indicated that in a bid to address the acute shortage of teachers, the assembly had taken up the payment of special allowances to teacher-trainees to encourage them to come back and served in the area. It has also taken up the payment of Travel and Transport (T and T) allowances to students in tertiary institutions who assist the assembly in its revenue mobilization drive during holidays.
Some of the issues raised by participants at the forum were the falling standards of education in the region, non-payment of compensation for lands acquired for government buildings in the municipality, the need for a National Disability Bill and improved access to formal education for the disabled, and the provision of Mass Transport buses for the Upper East Region.
Other were the lack of Information Technology (IT) centres in the region, the acute shortage of textbooks in basic schools, and the need to extend the electrification programme to remote communities in the area.
A retired educationist, Mr Robert A. Ajene, called on the government of Great Britain to pay reparation to the people of northern Ghana for the discriminatory British colonial policy on education which, he sad, had created a huge gap between the north and the southern part of the country in terms of development.
Flanked by Municipal and District Chief Executives, the Regional Minister responded to most of the questions raised at the forum.