STAKEHOLDERS URGED TO IMPLEMENT CHILD PROTECTION POLICY IN GHANA

BOLGATANGA, The Most Reverend Alfred Agyenta, the Bishop of Navrongo-Bolgatanga Catholic Diocese, has urged stakeholders in education to effectively implement the Child Protection Policy to protect children, young people and vulnerable adults.

He said he did not agree with a section of the public who claim the contents of the child protection policy were alien to African culture adding that globalisation had brought the world closer together.

Bishop Agyenta said this when he opened a training workshop for stakeholders in education from the Northern and Upper East regions on the Child Protection Policy in Bolgatanga.

Participants involved the regional and district directors of education, and managers of the Catholic Education, Islamic and Presbyterian Education units.

It was organised by the Navrongo-Bolgatanga Diocese of the Catholic Church in partnership with World Vision Ghana, a child-welfare Non-Governmental Organisation.

The training was to sensitise participants on the policy and to ensure that they implemented it to help curb the spate of abuse in schools, homes and institutions.

Bishop Agyenta said the diocese had developed its own Child Policy Document, drawing its contents from the Child Protection and Family Welfare Document of the Gender Ministry and UNICEF.

He said it had also constituted Diocesan Child Safeguarding and Child Protection Teams to help address the phenomenon.

Bishop Agyenta said the Catholic Church had established 357 schools in the region made up of kindergartens, primary, junior and senior high schools and a training college to complement government’s effort at delivering quality education.

“As major stakeholders in education it is, therefore, very important to help ensure that we create a safer environment to protect our children, young people and the vulnerable adults to become more responsible leaders in future.

“It is in this light that the Catholic Church will continue to always complement government’s efforts at providing spiritual and moral formation to help nurture good values in our children to become more responsible citizens; for Knowledge without character is useless,” Bishop Agyenta said.

Presenting a report on the Catholic Education Unit schools in the diocese, Rev. Sister Bernardine Pemii, the Regional Manager of the Catholic Education Unit, said it was regrettable that teachers meted out inhuman abuses to children.

She cited instances where a school teacher asked a pupil to use the mouth to clean the blackboard and another where a nine- year-old pupil was asked by the teacher to carry 30 buckets of stones as his punishment.

Rev. Sister Pemii entreated the stakeholders to work hard towards ending such barbaric acts, saying such punishments could discourage many pupils from attending school.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

WORLD BANK TO WITHDRAW GRANT SUPPORT TO GHANA

SUNYANI, The World Bank will soon withdraw its grant support on water and sanitation to Ghana, Mr Charles Dzradosi, a Social Policy Specialist of UNICEF, has said.

This is because, for some years now, Ghana had not demonstrated any true political will to tackle sanitation problems in the country.

Mr Dzradosi was speaking during the Brong-Ahafo Regional launch of the 2016 Ghana District Table (DLT) in Sunyani.

The DLT is a simple ranking tool showing national progress towards delivering development across the country’s 216 districts.

Mr Dzradosi said the World Bank did not understand why open defecation must still persist in the country despite its continuous assistance to eradicate the unhygienic practice.

He said the World Bank was also not happy that many Ghanaians still lacked access to basic sanitary facilities, particularly household toilets.

Mr Dzradosi said a directive was required from the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to push metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) to tackle the issue of sanitation in a more proactive manner.

MMDAs must strictly enforced sanitation bye-laws and also ensure that enough public toilets are provided for the citizens, he said.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

Syrians Finding Refuge in Africa as War at Home Grinds on

ACCRA -As desperate Syrians flee the devastating war in their country, some are finding refuge in sub-Saharan Africa, including Ghana.

One imam from Aleppo, Abdul Ghani Bandenjki, first visited Ghana in 2006 after being invited to officiate at prayers during the Ramadan holy month. When fighting broke out in Syria five years later, Bandenjki decided to return to this West African nation more than 3,000 miles (4,825 kilometers) away.

Now the 42-year-old tutors Quranic students outside the capital, Accra. What was once a temporary solution for his family has started to look permanent, though adjusting hasn’t been easy.

“We just want the war to end so that one day we can go back to our country,” Bandenjki said in Arabic.

As millions fled Syria, his brothers and sisters left for nearby Turkey and Lebanon. Other family members scattered across Europe. His father, however, refused to leave, and he said his mother died of grief three days after a bomb destroyed their family home.

Bandenjki’s journey with his wife and four children has been the longest. He stays in touch with his surviving relations as best as he can.

As more of his countrymen arrived in Ghana, bewildered, he was asked to become the Syrian refugee community’s liaison with the local government. There are no firm statistics on the number of Syrians here, he said, but he believes the figure is close to 1,000.

And it’s not just Ghana. Fleeing Syrians have found refuge in pockets across sub-Saharan Africa, even as far as South Africa. An estimated 300 are in Somalia’s relatively peaceful breakaway northern territory of Somaliland.

In contrast to the millions living in camps in Syria’s overwhelmed neighbors, the Syrians here find themselves relatively free.

“I think what makes Ghana different is the fact that we have a very generous asylum policy,” said Tetteh Padi, program coordinator for the Ghana Refugee Board. “They are free to move about. They can go out, look for work. I know for a fact that is not the case in other countries. In some countries, refugees are not even allowed to leave the refugee camps.”

Over 130 Syrians so far have been granted refugee status, Padi said, and other requests for asylum are being considered.

Ghana’s government has not provided food or lodging assistance so far but provides help where it can, Padi said. “The state is providing them with security, the state is protecting them. We’re issuing them with documentation, which is very critical.”

This country now feels like a second home for Bandenjki, and he calls Ghana beautiful. But he wishes more could be done to help others fleeing Syria’s devastation. Many refugees are far worse off financially than he is, he said.

The lack of support and work opportunities in Ghana, plus the high cost of living, drives many Syrians to pursue a move to developed countries in North America or Europe.

“Ghana is not really ready to host refugees,” Bandenjki said.

But his 17-year-old son, Mohammed, has adapted quickly to life here and is studying hard at school. He managed to learn English in about five months, the teen said.

Of his family’s fate, Bandenjki said simply: “We are patient until God finds us a solution.”

Source: Voice of America

OCCUPYGHANA QUESTIONS SIZE OF MINISTERIAL APPOINTMENTS

ACCRA, OccupyGhana, a socio-political and non-partisan pressure group, has implored President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to reduce the size of ministers appointed to save the country from financial insecurity.

The group believes that the seemingly large size of the executive would bring undue pressure on the national purse while aggravating the challenges facing the country unless well-structured monitoring and evaluation mechanisms were put in place to ensure efficiency.

A statement issued by Nana Sarpong Agyemang-Badu, the Media Relations Officer of the Group, and copied to the Ghana News Agency on Friday, questioned the impact of the move on the economic growth of the state.

“Can Ghana, with its present economic situation, afford 110 ministers? Can we not do more with less?

“The problems that beset this nation are known to all. Paramount among them is the issue of corruption. In creating such a huge bureaucracy, have we not increased the chances of corrupt officials plundering the little that we have left as a nation?” it asked.

Although, the group noted that the projects charted by government required more hands to achieve, the size of the ministers could breed waste of state resources.

“We are aware of the plans of the new administration to enact significant changes to the way the business of government is done, in enacting its vision to help this nation develop.

“We are also aware that some of these changes require the requisite manpower to achieve success,” the statement said but expressed concern about the apparent overlap in the portfolios of some ministers and their deputies.

It said the move would enlarge bureaucracies which would do a disservice to the private sector, which the President had always earmarked to strengthen to rescue the country from economic hardship.

“Large bureaucracies are not known to facilitate the growth of any private business sector. Do we not run the risk of crowding out and suffocating a struggling private sector with a gargantuan government bureaucracy?” it asked.

The statement called on President Akufo-Addo to reconsider the size of his ministers while championing prudent mechanisms to ensure that the executive performed its role efficiently.

It said as part of the duties of the Minister of Monitoring and Evaluation, a set of key performance indicators (KPIs) should be developed for each ministerial position, published on the ministerial website, and assessed by the President, Vice President and the minister on an annual or biannual basis.

Such KPIs, the statement said, must be designed to ensure there was no overlap of duties so as to duplicate responsibilities between ministers.

Ministers who would be found wanting under this assessment scheme should be dismissed so as to ensure “a constant and robust evaluation of the effectiveness of ministers and ministries.”

This, the statement said, would ensure accountability and transparency in both the private and public sectors which would propel the vision of the new government.

OccupyGhana is a socio-political non-partisan pressure group with the vision of engaging Ghanaians in the development process and ensuring good and responsible governance

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK