Mr. Speaker, I think it is very important for those of us in this House who have problems with placement of their wards and children, around this time, to lend our support to the Statement on floor. I think you would all agree with me that this Statement, however slanted it is towards the interest of the Volta Region, is pointing to a very important need of this country -- the expansion of tertiary institutions in this country.
We all know of the large numbers of students from the senior secondary schools who have got appreciable aggregates lower than the 24 which is the average we are looking at, but who up till now, two or three weeks before the re-opening of the tertiary institutions that exist now, including the twelve or so viable private tertiary universities, have still not found their way as to whether they are continuing their education or not.
The real thrust of the Statement is not to serve the prestige purposes of the region, but the expansion of tertiary education throughout the country; and we welcome proposals as to the needs of Brong Ahafo, and Eastern Region and so on and so forth; all areas must be properly served.
But what the Statement is seeking to impress upon our minds is that, even
though we believe that Government cannot do everything in terms of expansion of education and therefore we welcome the participation of private institutions or private enterprise, the major thrust of tertiary education, in terms of the preparation of our students according to focused areas of national development, will come from the State itself. And that is the basis of this Statement that has been made.
What we want to see is that, after many years of trying to create universities, expand existing universities, create a merger of campuses and so on, we should now begin to look at the possibility of state-sponsored and initiated tertiary institutions that will really follow and pursue the need for creating the necessary manpower.
The Statement is replete with advantages in terms of cost and opportunities if we look at the statistics given about the educational institutions in the Volta Region as an example of the under-fed areas that we could expand to.
Two thousand, three hundred and thirty-five basic schools, seventy senior secondary schools, seven teacher training institutions, three technical institutes and one polytechnic -- these are the areas where we are already beginning to satisfy or create the need for tertiary education.
Of course, we know that when tertiary institutions are in regions, as they are even now, they are not only serving the interest of students in the region. A university established in the Volta Region will naturally serve the interests of all students wherever they are in this country, even foreign students. And therefore, what the maker of the Statement and the caucus that supports this Statement want us to
understand is that these state-funded or sponsored institutions are well planned for the needs of this country in those areas of need that we know will meet the manpower requirements.
These are areas which are underserved. The Volta Region is among the foremost areas that require that intervention by Government. It is true that even the distance education policy which is being pursued will have centres to meet the needs of the students, the teachers and the workers who are invited to take advantage of this mode of education.It will also create opportunities for research on matters that will help this country to improve its policies on education.
So Mr. Speaker, I lend support to the Statement that has been made and want to invite all hon. Members of this House who have realized that the number of state-sponsored or funded institutions in the tertiary level is not enough to serve the interests of the country -- And if we are to serve the interests of the underserved areas, the Volta Region is one of the areas easily demarcated for that intervention. I support the Statement and invite all of you to support it. I thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Osei Kyei-Mensah Bonsu (NPP
-- Suame): Mr. Speaker, I rise to associate myself with the principle underpinning the Statement made by my hon. Colleague. Mr. Speaker, but I wished that the Statement had the intervention of the State in establishing universities or tertiary institutions in all regions which do not have, instead of specifying it for a particular region.
Mr. Speaker, I want to believe that the hon. Member who made the Statement will not be happy if for instance, the University of Ghana is located just on one campus in the Volta Region. He will
not be happy with it. So I believe that the people of the Upper West, the Upper East and the Brong Ahafo Region which he cited as having campuses of University for Development Studies and therefore being sufficiently covered -- I believe that the people in these regions equally would want universities to be sited there.
So as he said, I understand the principle; we should strive for equity and balanced development in all regions which do not have tertiary institutions; and I think that we should not limit it to just one region. Mr. Speaker, in a similar fashion, I think we should be careful in just saying that this region does not have and that every region should have a state- funded university because of the experience of some countries in the subregion.
Mr. Speaker, Nigeria went in a similar way. There was considerable advocacy in the establishment of universities in all the States. They established thirty State universities in addition to the well- established universities that they had in the system. So States which even had universities, like the University of Lagos in Lagos State, because it was a blanket request, the people did request that they should also benefit from the enterprise. So they had Lagos State University being established.
Oyo State had University of Ile Ife;
they demanded and they had Oyo State University. Delta State -- they demanded and they had Delta State University at Ekwama. Mr. Speaker, it turned out that all these universities which were established became glorified secondary schools and indeed they were not serving the purpose for which they were established.
As we speak today, of the thirty state- funded universities that were established in Nigeria, only five (5) are functional; the rest have collapsed and I do not think that we should go the same way. So yes,