The Director of ISSER, Prof. Felix Asante, in introductory remarks, acknowledged the reviewers of the report after which he gave a point-by-point overview and outlook of the economy. He said at 73% of GDP in 2015, total government debt remained high (from 36% in 2009 to 73% in 2015) a situation which called for serious prioritization of public finances.
Quoting figures from the report, Prof. Asante stated that Ghana’s GDP grew by 3.9% in 2015, down from 4.0%, a trend that has continued since 2011. He called for less borrowing by government and the over reliance on oil to propel the economy.
Prof. Asante noted a significant development in 2015 which saw, for the first time since 2011, non-oil GDP of 4.1% outpace the country’s GDP of 3.9% giving credence to the call on government not to push aside other sectors and rely wholly on oil.
(From left, Dr. Charles Ackah, Head Economic Division, ISSER, Prof. Felix Asante, Director, Prof. Oduro Owusu, Vice Chancellor and Prof. Samuel Agyei-Mensah, Provost, College of Humanities).
The optional chapter in the Report was on education which looked at the state of the sector since Ghana attained independence. The report indicated that the Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) programme introduced in 1995 has improved access to primary education with enrolment climbing from 3.5 million in 1990s to nearly 7 million pupils’ in 2012.
For tertiary education, enrolment in Ghanaian universities went up from under 10,000 students in Ghana’s three public universities in 1987 to over 400,000 by 2015.
Some challenges identified by the report include erosion in the quality of education at all levels as a result of increased access not matched by increased funding and a secondary education system where the top 20% of school graduates account for 70% of the candidates for tertiary education.
The report also noted that the enrolment in Science and Mathematics programmes is significantly lower, stemming from low performance at the Senior High School level and the fact that the overall ratio of science-based to humanities-based programme was about 30% to 70% in 2014.
The open discussion saw representatives of institutions and members of the public seeking clarification on aspects of the report. Contributors to the 2015 SGER were Prof. Jonathan Arko Fletcher, Prof. Asante, Prof Peter Quartey and Dr. Charles Ackah.
Audience at the launch
The Vice-Chancellor in his closing remarks, commended ISSER for the painstaking research in coming up with the Report. He said ISSER’s role in providing empirical-based knowledge on the economy and the neutral stance of the report, he hoped will set the agenda in the media space for meaningful discussion towards national development.
He also urged government to resuscitate the agricultural sector arguing that countries which have developed like Japan started with agriculture. He argued that the way forward for the nation is to give priority to science at all levels of the educational ladder.
The launch was attended by corporate organisations, civil society organisations, members of the university community and the general public.