Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. As I said, I was winding up but for this rude interference I would have been close to the end.
But Mr. Speaker, the hon. Minister for the Interior misses the point. I did not say that a docket has not been submitted. I said the President, on good governance, omitted to address certain issues of human rights and I hope that even though he did not mention it, action is being taken to address the issues. And I just began to analyse the issues when he rudely interrupted me.
Mr. Speaker, I did not finish. The other issue - and he is going to be dealing with that quite regularly - is the issue of Dagbon. It was not mentioned but I hope that progress is being made.
Mr. Speaker, another unpardonable omission was that we had a budget of forty billion cedis for a national reconciliation exercise. Mr. Speaker, that exercise was wound up in the latter part of last year. The Report leaked so badly that it was published in newspapers.
Mr. Speaker, one of the positive things I said about this State of the Nation Address was the fact that it was conciliatory. The least I had expected was that the President would have said something about national reconciliation. What is the status of the report? It has leaked already, so they should go ahead and publish it so that we all see it. Where is the White Paper on the National Reconciliation Commission? I think that it was a very grave omission that the President did not mention it.
Mr. Speaker, the President said these are good times to be a Ghanaian. I beg to differ; it has always been good to be a Ghanaian. We are Ghanaians; this is our nation and we have always felt
proud being Ghanaians. Mr. Speaker, the President said these are exciting times. It would appear that these are exciting times for the President and his apostles and his Ministers for Education and all of them - these are exciting times, yes. But Mr. Speaker, for rural Members of Parliament like us, I say that excitement has not yet reached the grass roots and the rural level.
Mr. Speaker, everyday my people are struggling to put food on the table; everyday my people are struggling to pay school fees for their children. Mr. Speaker, if the excitement is coming, it probably has started at the top but it has not yet trickled down to the rural communities. It is probably still isolated at the Castle junction; and if they are exciting times, I will add that my hon. Colleagues in Government, on that side, should as quickly as possible let us all feel that excitement in respect of an improvement in the quality of life of our people. I thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Question proposed. Mr. Kojo Armah (CPP -- Evalue/
Gwira): Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity. Mr. Speaker, I rise to support the motion and to thank his Excellency the President for the Address. And in doing so, I want to note particularly the modesty and the simplicity with which the Address was delivered. I am happy that my good friend, the hon. Member for Bole/Bamboi also admitted that for once there was a lot of modesty in the Address and in spite of that modesty, the Address also gave us a lot of vision and good hope for this country.
Mr. Speaker, I also want to associate myse l f wi th my hon . Fr iend in congratulating you Mr. Speaker for your election to this high office. But I note, Mr. Speaker, that whilst His Excellency the President congratulated the Speaker and the new Members who have come to this House and also welcomed the continuing Members, there was a powerful caucus
in this House, which appeared to have escaped his privileged knowledge.
Mr. Speaker, we have those who have been recycled, or they call themselves returnees, who are neither exactly new nor continuing. This is a powerful group of people; I understand they are under the chairmanship of hon. Collins Dauda - [Laughter.] I also understand that they are already lobbying to be recognized as a caucus - in fact, the only caucus that is “all-party” caucus which would want to be on the Leadership. Mr. Speaker, they also want to contribute their experience for the betterment of this country.
But on a more serious note, in both his Inaugural Address and the State of the Nation Message, the President mentioned the development of the youth as a critical focal point of his “Positive Change Chapter 2”. Indeed, in his Message, page 6, he said, and with your permission, I beg to quote:
“. . . the future belongs to the youth. And Government is putting in place all the necessary measures to enable young people prepare themselves for the future.”
I think this is a very laudable vision and a charge to the youth.
But Mr. Speaker, the youth of this country have been subjected, for a very long time, to various changes and directions in the educational system to the extent that some of us are really confused as to exactly what the end result will be. I admit that the policy on education, like several other policies, needs constant review to meet the exigencies of the time and the demands of every nation; therefore changes are necessary.
But when changes are so radical that they affect the bulk of the youth of a country, then the visions of our leaders may not exactly be achieved. I want to explain it in this way. When such changes started some years ago, talking about the senior secondary school and the junior secondary school, the focus of education was changed to become more vocational instead of grammar school. Perhaps the youth in the cities, the urban areas may have profited because they had access to the French teachers; they had access to technical and vocational teachers; and they had access to other things.
Those of us from the rural areas had on our hands schools that had more vacancies in the classrooms than teachers. In my constituency, in the district which I headed, we had about four hundred teacher vacancies in the classrooms. We did not have French teachers, we did not have technical teachers. So from day one that the child enters school, he is already out of contention in about 6 subjects. If you look at the list that has recently been published you will find that these schools are already at the bottom; the passes are not so good for them to enter the university.
In my district, again the rate of attrition at that level is about 70 per cent. In other words, for the past six years or so we have had an average of about a thousand two hundred people as Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) candidates but for the same period we have not had more than 20 that have passed with aggregate 6. Indeed, the largest number that passed in one year was six; that was in 2002; after that it dropped to four and last year we again had four.
What I am trying to say is that if you have that high rate of attrition then there must be a conscious effort on the part