“Do Not Neglect Early Childhood Education” – Says Akufo Addo

The 2016 presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, is urging the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, as well as other churches and other religious organisations across the country, who are now mainly concentrating on the provision of tertiary education, to pay equal attention to early childhood education.

According to Nana Akufo-Addo, “the exponential growth in the number of tertiary institutions in the last few years certainly show that this has been a most popular decision by the churches and others that have gone into the sector.”

However, he made “a heartfelt appeal to the Presbyterian Church to take a look back to the early childhood sector”, stating that “the Church used to be very active in this sector. There is an obvious, great need in this sector as we seem to be failing our young people. There is no gainsaying the fact that the most critical stages of education for any child are the early years.”

The NPP flagbearer made this known on Monday, August 22, 2016, whilst addressing the 16th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, at Abetifi, Kwahu, in the Eastern Region.

Recounting the period during the erstwhile NPP administration, where basic education was redefined to include two years of kindergarten, Nana Akufo-Addo noted that the government of President Kufuor started a vigorous programme to make it possible for all four year olds to gain access to kindergartens.

Unfortunately, he bemoaned that this programme has stalled in the last seven years and it has been left to the private sector to fill the gap.

“The Presbyterian Church has a proven track record in this sector and I urge you to go back and help our nation. I daresay it would be useful for the growth of the Church as well. The famous saying of St Francis Xavier comes to mind: ‘give me a child until he is seven, and I will show you the man’… I would suggest that there is an urgent need, therefore, for churches, like the Presbyterian Church, to step up and take the children until they are seven and mould the men and women that would build a successful Ghana”, he said.

With “Presbyterian” schools easily distinguished by the behaviour of the students and by the orderly nature of the campuses, Nana Akufo-Addo explained that “there is a great opportunity for the Presbyterian Church to take the opening that presents itself today and play a leading role in the early childhood education sector. The values of the Church are sorely needed in this critical sector.”

One of the things that set apart the early Presbyterians in this country, in the opinion of the NPP flagbearer, was the Salems.

“These were the communities that developed around the early Presbyterian churches around the country. The houses were well-laid out, they were clean and orderly, those who lived there obeyed the rules and regulations of the community and there was a sense of communal responsibility. People genuinely believed in being each other’s keeper and one could say that it indeed took the entire village, the community to bring up a child,” he said.

Amongst others, Nana Akufo-Addo noted that inhabitants of these Salems “were great proponents of educating the head, the heart and the hand. Even though they laid great emphasis on education, they were not afraid of working with their hands and they produced scholars and artisans of great repute.”

He continued, “The teachers were held in high esteem, but were also held accountable to the community. In other words, these communities were the epitome of what many people feel we lack today in our communities and in our nation: cleanliness and orderliness, a sense of communal responsibility and being each other’s keeper.”

By referring to these things, Nana Akufo-Addo explained that “I am trying to take you to the future. I see you as a progressive partner in the project of the self-confident and prosperous Ghana that my Party seeks to build.”

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