Commencement 2016: "Ashesi will receive its Presidential Charter before 2016 ends," says Deputy Minister of Education, Hon. Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I want to begin by extending to you all, the President of Ashesi University, the Management, teaching and non-teaching staff, and most importantly the Class of 2016, the highest regards from my boss the Minister of Education, Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang, who has been here on a number of occasions. She loves commencements at Ashesi University, but today, we have quite a number of assignments, and so she has asked that I extend to you her very warm regards and deepest congratulations to the graduating class.

For many decades and centuries, it had been believed that for a university to be of exceptional quality and high standards, that university must be a public university. Ashesi University broke that myth. Then it was also believed that for a university to make the global impact that Ashesi is making, that university had to be centuries old before you can begin to gain recognition. Once again, Ashesi University has defied that narrative. And it is on that note that I am so delighted to announce today that the interim assessment report that we have cited from the National Accreditation Board, points to one fact. That fact, is that for a certainty, before the year 2016 ends, Ashesi University is going to receive its Presidential Charter. This is a feat worth celebrating. Dr. Awuah, the people of this country are grateful that you did not give up. 

People like Dr. Awuah are rare, and we ought to support and encourage them anytime we get the the opportunity. This feat is one that has been achieved by exceptional hard work, exceptional dynamism, braving the odds, and remaining true to a cause and a vision that has been so well defined. Anytime we come here as workers at the Ministry of Education we see that this is an institution that continues to live that vision, and that is a vision which will transform this continent and the world. Today we celebrate an African Union graduation, and beyond, because I hear there is a graduand from China. It tells us that when we remain determined and committed to a vision, God will support us to achieve that vision. And people will come from all over the world to attest to that vision. So we are happy that we live in a country that has now carved a niche as a preferred destination for education in Africa. Those who doubt that have seen it today.

And beyond what is happening here today, the records available at the National Council for Tertiary Education, point to the fact that there are at least 13,000 foreign students from 60 different countries from all over the world studying in Ghana. There is something happening in higher education in Ghana, with our visionary, dynamic leaders like Dr. Patrick Awuah, who we ought to support and we ought to celebrate. Together they are building the next generation of leaders, scholars, entrepreneurs, inventors, and humanitarians who will lift this continent out of the shackles of poverty, ignorance and disease.

To the graduating class, may I add my word to what has been eloquently presented to you by Dr. Awuah – the need for you to go out there with courage. We are currently living in a world where there’s a lot of despair and a lot of frustration. Many countries are struggling to get a handle around what they should be doing moving forward. We have just seen this week that the United Kingdom has voted to leave the European Union. Many analysts say that perhaps it’s a mistake, but as democrats, we ought to respect the decision of the voters of the UK. We are seeing how far-right parties are talking about taking their country back, and all kinds of interesting politicians and leaders are emerging all over the world, because of the pressures of globalization, threats of terrorism and mistrust for one another. It’s an era of uncertainty.

Should we open up and be all embracing, trust one another and pull together, or do we become isolationist and be stuck in our shells minding our own business? All of what we have heard today, I believe, should prepare us to not be daunted by current trends. Let us go out there believing that it is better to work together. We should go out there shuttering all prejudices, whether they be ethnic, national or religious. Let us believe in the good of every human being, and that we can work together. And I believe that is what Ashesi University has taught you, in your four-year stay here.

We should not be scared, we should not be afraid, and we should not mistrust one another. Let us work collectively, and in our unity there is nothing we cannot achieve. There is no force of evil out there that we cannot defeat.

Finally, let me assure you, that on my way here I have had discussions with the minister for roads and highways; in my interaction with Ashesi University officials, I know there are two issues that government has to pay attention to. Dr. Awuah has done his bit, we need to support the National Accreditation Board to grant your Presidential Charter, which is on course; and then we need to fix the Berekuso road. I want to assure you that, that road, from what I have been told by the sector Minister, has been programmed. And we are hoping that by the time we come here for the next graduation, we will see a different road, and we will see that progress has been made. 

Thank you very much for the opportunity to share in this happy occasion, and may I also thank our parents, guardians and sponsors, who have made it possible for people to achieve their dreams. To The MasterCard Foundation, and all those foundations and organisations, who are supporting families so that we can prepare the next generation of thinkers and leaders who will make our world a better place. We are grateful to all of you.

God bless you all, and God bless Ashesi University.