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Speech Delivered by Rev. Prof. E. Kingsley Larbi, President and CEO, Regent University College of Science and Technology, at the American International School, Accra, on the Occasion of its Second Graduation Ceremony, Held on June 3, 2010


Chairman of the Board of the American International School;
The Director of the School;
Teachers, Parents/Guardians, Students, Graduating Class;
Invited Guests;
Members of the Press;
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen:

 

I want to sincerely thank the Rev. Jeff Korum (Special Assistant to the Director of the American International School), and the leadership of this institution, for inviting me to speak at this important graduation ceremony in which three students are passing out after years of hard work.

Quality Education and Human Development
As a pioneer of private tertiary education in this great nation of ours, and a strong advocate of quality basic and secondary education, I do not take this invitation for granted; indeed, I deem it an honour done me, a cherished opportunity to extend my reflections on the subject of quality education.

Mr Chairman, I believe most of us are here today precisely because of our strong belief in the human potential and the critical role education plays in developing this potential.

It is my firm belief that all human beings have virtually the same potential, and that no one was born a loser. The primary difference between the one considered to be a genius and the so-called “loser,” is basically what they do with their potential, the support they receive in developing this potential, and the environment within which this potential is developed.

It is precisely because of this that all of us must work together as a collective force to eliminate the massive waste of human potential, due principally to the shortfalls that exist in our educational system in most of our developing world, particularly in Africa today. The educational system in Ghana, like most of Africa, has suffered from lack of effective long-term planning. Over the years, access to basic and secondary education has moved along two, never-ending, parallel lines: the one for the poor and the other for the rich. The one for the poor belongs primarily to the rural folk, where about 70% of our population live. The primary and Junior High Schools here are poorly equipped; they suffer from poor and inadequate infrastructure, non-existent library and laboratory facilities, and ill-trained and poorly-motivated teachers, among other things. There are no High Schools in these deprived areas apart from the few poorly-equipped, unattractive community day secondary or high schools. Most of the school- going children in these rural areas combine farming and other economic activities with schooling in order to make ends meet. The children here do not have access to the same amount of information their counterparts in the well-endowed, urban schools have, before they write the national examinations; consequently, the bulk of them fail in such examinations and are not able to progress to the High School level.

Though, in Ghana, for instance through certain interventions, enrolment ratios have increased in some schools, the issue of quality education is still a major concern, and the gulf between the rural folks and the urban dwellers continue to widen.

The other category of school-going children in Ghana and most of Africa, are those who belong to the well-to-do families, most of whom live in the urban areas. The well-to-do educate their children mostly in the well-endowed public and private schools where the standards are higher and there are better facilities. The parents here are able to invest more money in extra tuition in order to adequately prepare their wards for the various national and international examinations.

Most of the pupils in the well-endowed, urban schools, do very well in the national and international examinations; as a result, they are able to progress on the educational ladder by gaining admissions into universities and colleges, including high-ranking ones, both locally and around the globe, particularly in the USA and Europe where the bulk of the world’s leading universities and colleges are concentrated.

Meanwhile, their counterparts in the rural and deprived areas of our world are left to languish in obscurity as they wallow in ignorance, disease, poverty, and filth. This group of people, who do not have access to quality education, are left at the bottom of the social ladder not because of genetic or cultural deficit, but because of their inability to fully develop their potential in becoming what they were created to be, precisely because of lack of access to quality education due to poverty.

Mr Chairman, it is when our population and our work force at all levels are sufficiently literate, educated, trained, and mobile to take advantage of new advances in technology and in techniques and organisation of production that our nations can move forward. The need for quality basic and secondary education cannot therefore be overemphasised. It is to this end that we must commend and support the efforts of the American International School.

Message to the AIS
I commend the management and staff of AIS for your efforts in providing quality education. You are helping to mould the destinies of your students from around the globe to affect their communities and nations for good.

As a people with a common humanity, we have the collective responsibility to address the ills, inequalities, and inequities in our world. When we are able to assist individuals and communities to overcome the ravages of poverty, which principally manifest itself in illiteracy, disease, and filth, this can bring transformation to families and communities.

Mr Chairman, it is when conscious efforts are made by governments, public- spirited individuals and organisations to address poverty and its debilitating conditions that there will be peace in our communities and, indeed, in our world; for it is self-evident that our prosperity and peace cannot be permanently sustained until it is linked up with the prosperity and peace of others with whom we share common humanity.

Message to the Graduating Class
Now to the graduating class; the journey has been long, but today you are graduating. Your parents, guardians, and sponsors have invested a lot to bring you this far. You must be grateful, for majority of the world’s children cannot boast of this privilege. Your parents and guardians have done this because they believe in you! They believe quality education will open the key to your future.

Whatever has been your experience as students of AIS, you can today say: “At long last, the battle has ended.” You can celebrate your success. But let me remind you: in a sense, the battle has just begun; you still have a world to conquer. The greater portion of your potential is still untapped. Thank God that you have begun on a good foundation, the foundation provided by AIS – an academic excellence based upon a solid evangelical, Christian ethical foundation. Upon this foundation, you will soon begin your tertiary education and, later, your professional or academic career. In whatever position you will find yourself, remember the divine mandate as enshrined in the good Book, Genesis 1:28. The good LORD expects you to be Productive, to Rule, and to Subdue the earth. As a matter of fact, you were born to win. You should not therefore allow any situation or condition to overcome you, because you have the God-given, in-built capacity to WIN.

Together with God, you cannot fail. Remember, there are no shortcuts to successful living: the fear of God, a vision and passion for a new world and a new reality, hard-work, perseverance, courage, discipline, and a desire to serve and be of service to humanity, will continue to be the timeless keys to success. Emulate these, and, God being on your side, you will realise your potential and leave a legacy in this world.

Conclusion
Mr Chairman, as a people, we must commit ourselves to what makes life worth living. Life is short but we can leave a legacy. What we do for ourselves will die with us; what we do for others will remain after our journey here on earth is over. We must look for opportunities to be of service to humanity wherever we may see ourselves. Mr Joseph Adjepong saw the filth and the degradation in our country as unacceptable. Zoomlion was born out of this passion. And, today, Zoomlion is found in almost all our cities and towns.

Every generation has the responsibility to make the present better than the past, so that coming generations will inherit a world that is better than generations before it. 

We must have a dream: a dream for a better world. Those of us from this part of the world, called Africa, have no reason why we should not be successful and prosperous in our own land. In terms of the availability of natural resources, only few continents, if any, can match Africa. In spite of this reality, the bulk of the world’s poorest nations is found on the continent of Africa. The greatest challenge Africa is facing is not lack of adequate resources; rather, our greatest challenge is lack of an effective, visionary and passionate leadership which will help to exploit and manage the resources that God has generously bestowed on this great continent. It is our collective responsibility to insist on quality and effective leadership. It is only by this that Africa will take its proper place in the comity of nations.

The vision of a new world and a new society has over the years fired the imagination and zeal of visionaries as well as social and religious reformers. The Bible says, where thee is no Vision the people lose the sense of direction and therefore perish (Prov. 29:18). Nothing much happens without a vision, and for any great thing to happen, there must be a great vision or a great dream.

Someone has said that, Ordinary people see things as they are and ask "Why?" But Exceptional people dream about things that never were, and ask, “why not”?

Where do you belong?