‘Education Strides Changing Lives’

A Free SHS Beneficiary


President Akufo-Addo says the government’s educational strides are already changing lives and the narrative, revealing that nearly two million young people had benefited from the free SHS policy as of this year.

“Predictions that the policy would lead to a lowering of standards proved wide of the mark,” he asserted and added that on the contrary, the results under the free SHS had shown a systematic improvement.

“I am proud of the additional infrastructure in education, especially the provision of ultra-modern classroom blocks for several schools, which are equipped with laboratories, ICT centres and libraries; the establishment of 10 STEM centres across the country including one in Accra to aid the study of engineering and robotics,” he noted.

He said construction has started on the University of Agricultural Science in Bunso in the Eastern Region.

He indicated that apart from the enhancement of revenue and the judicious use of resources, all Ghanaians agreed that the country needs to do something about the huge import bill.

“Last year, I set up a five-member ad hoc Cabinet committee to work on a policy to enhance domestic production and export development with a four-fold strategy to: (1) reduce the country’s import bill in the short-, medium- and long-term;  (2) enhance domestic productive capacity in selected products; (3) generate widespread employment opportunities; and (4) diversify and expand our export capacity to Africa and beyond, especially through the vehicle of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA),” he said.

He stated that in 2021, Ghana’s total import bill was put at US$13.7 billion, according to GRA/ICUMS.

“On the evidence of existing local productive capacity, we have identified a list of twenty (20) priority products in the categories of primary agricultural products, processed foods, and manufactured goods, where we can confidently enhance domestic production. Amongst these are rice, fish, poultry, fruit juice, sugar, tomatoes, vegetable oils, oil palm, fertilizers, pharmaceuticals, soaps and detergents, insulated wire, ceramic products, corrugated paper and paper board, cement/clinker, and motor vehicles,” he submitted.

According to him, the report on the implementation modalities to enhance domestic productive capacity in these products has been prepared and, once confirmed, the new Minister for Trade & Industry will urgently roll-out a series of initiatives to implement the policy.

“I want, at this stage, to make mention of one particular programme that has been introduced by the Government to address the needs of the youth and women, the YouStart programme,” he noted.

He continued, “This programme seeks to support young entrepreneurs to gain access to capital, market, training and technical skills, compliance and quality assurance support and business development support services that will enable them start, build and grow their own businesses.”

The President said the YouStart programme was successfully piloted in 2022 with 70 youth-led businesses benefiting from the initial GH¢1.98 million.

Subsequently, a total of 288,800 applications have been received and are being processed by the Ghana Enterprise Agency for full operation, he posited.

By Ernest Kofi Adu, Parliament House