The government has said that while it has made modest economic gains, it is more focused on the well-being of Ghanaians.
It explained that its position was that mere economic growth and its associated indicators were necessary but not sufficient measurement of human well-being.
“We believe human development is a more encompassing and comprehensive way to conceptualise development, as it puts people first. In this light, the government acknowledges the gains made over the last few years in major human development indicators,” it said.
This was contained in a statement signed by the Minister of Communications, Dr Edward Omane Boamah, in Accra yesterday.
According to the statement, recognised benchmarks had shown significant improvement, owing largely to unprecedented investment in critical sectors such as health, education, water provision, among other areas.
One of such benchmarks, it said, was the achievement of the Millennium Development Goal 1 target of reducing the proportion of poor people by half by 2015 in 2013.
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That achievement, it said, was a clear two years ahead of the deadline for the achievement of that target, according to a recent World Bank study titled: “Poverty Reduction in Ghana: Progress and Challenges”.
It said Ghana had achieved significant progress on the economic front and that latest data on per capita income from the International Monetary Fund (IMF, World Economic Outlook, 2016) put Ghana’s GDP per capita in current terms in 2015 at US$1,340.4.
That, the statement said, represented a 5.9 per cent increase over the 2008 figure of US$1,266.1.
“Our current per capita income is also higher than that of Cote d’Ivoire (US$1,314.7), Senegal (US$913.0) and Kenya (US$1,338.5),” it posited.
On the educational front, the statement said, generally Ghana‘s educational system ranked among the best on the African continent and that the University of Ghana was recently ranked the seventh best university in Africa by the Times Higher Education.
“According to the UNDP (2015), Ghana’ s average years in school (7.0 years) is higher and better than that of Kenya (6.3 years), Nigeria (5.9 years) Cote d’Ivoire (4.3 years) and Senegal (2.5 years),” it said.
At the adult literacy level, it added that improvement had been reported, with the literacy rate increasing from 50.7 per cent in 2008 to 76.6 per cent in 2015.
A more impressive accomplishment, according to the statement, was the trend in youth literacy which had more than doubled from 21.9 per cent in 1990/1992 to 55.8 per cent in 1998/99.
“Thereafter, a further increase to 64.8 per cent was reported in 2005/06 before it took a quantum leap to 80.5 per cent in 2012/2013,” it added.
“Ghana has the highest school enrolment rate in the West African sub-region, with over 90 per cent of eligible schoolchildren currently in school,” it said, adding that as of the 2014/15 academic year, 9,202,894 pupils/students were enrolled in 57,293 educational institutions from the kindergarten stage to the tertiary level, representing an increase of 2,164,156 or 30.74 per cent over enrolment in the 2008/9 academic year.
“Important benchmarks such as gender parity and completion rates,” it said, were also improving.
“Gender parity, which measures the ratio of girls to boys, currently stands at 0.96 at the primary level and 0.91 at the JHS level, compared to 0.92 and 0.85, respectively, in the 2008/9 academic year,” the statement said.
At the secondary level, the statement recounted the rolling out of programmes such as the secondary education Improvement programme to expand and improve the quality of 125 additional SHSs in deprived communities, commencement of the progressively free secondary education policy in September 2015, the ongoing provision of scholarships for over 10,400 needy, brilliant students, as well as incentives to keep Ghanaian girls in SHS, had played a major role in expanding access and quality since 2009.
To address the disparity in the certificates awarded to trained teachers from teacher training institutions and the University of Education, Winneba, it said, the government converted all the 38 existing teacher training colleges into tertiary institutions to make them degree-awarding institutions.
The government, it said, decisively swapped the teacher trainee allowance with the student loan scheme operated by the Students Loan Trust to ensure that more applicants to those institutions were not barred because of the previous unsustainable teacher trainee allowance which placed a ceiling on the number of admissions.
“So far, thousands of students in our colleges of education have since accessed the student’s loan to finance their education. Teacher-trainee enrolment in the colleges of education has increased astronomically by a whopping 63 per cent since the swap of the allowance with the student’s loan scheme,” it said.
It said today Ghanaians were living longer and healthier lives than any other period in the nation’s history.
According to a World Health Organisation (WHO) report, Ghana’s life expectancy at birth increased from 56 years in 1990 to 58 and 60 years in 2000 and 2008, respectively, adding that by 2013 it had risen by three years to 63 years.
Quoting a WHO report, the statement said: “Ghana’s current life expectancy at birth is higher than Nigeria (55 years), Cote d’Ivoire (51.5 years), as well as the sub-Saharan Africa average (56.8 years). By these statistics, Ghanaians, on the average, live longer than their West African counterparts.”
It said infant and child mortality trends had all aligned with the improved life expectancy trends.
With investments totalling more than US$2 billion by the government, the statement said, Ghana was set to increase the availability of hospital beds by 6,000.
It said as of 2014, total hospital beds available in Ghana stood at 19,907, with government facilities accounting for 11,689, while the private sector and quasi-government health institutions provided the remaining.
“Currently ongoing is a programme under which several major hospital projects, including the University of Ghana Teaching Hospital, the Ridge Hospital and the Police Hospital, are being worked on to ensure that by 2018 an additional 6,000 hospital beds are made available,” it added.
Other interventions in the health sector, the statement said, included the construction of 1,260 CHPS compounds with government and donor resources, as well as the US$264 million National Medical Equipment Replacement Programme.
The statement said Ghana was making significant strides in various facets of national life “and moving in the right direction with reasonable speed”, adding that “this palpable and real progress collectively achieved and backed by credible, multiple indicators from reputable and independent sources speaks authoritatively”.