Prof George Gyan-Baffuor, Minister for Planning has launched the Ghana Social Development Outlook (GSDO), 2016 report; a biennial flagship publication of the Institute of Social, Statistical and Economic Research (ISSER) of the University of Ghana.
The 243-page book, which was authored by Researchers of the Social Division of the Institute, provides in-depth analysis of critical issues in contemporary social development in Ghana and makes policy recommendations. Thematic areas addressed in the report are education, health, employment, housing, governance, water and sanitation, energy and the environment.
In his opening remarks to kick-start the official launch of the publication - which is the third in the series - Prof Felix Ankomah Asante, Director of the Institute noted that it has come at the end of the Millennium Development Goals (SDGs) and at the threshold of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
He expressed concerns in three areas which are: data quality issues, educational standards and linkages between economic and social development. Advancing his argument, the Director bemoaned the fact that the country was neither investing in data collection nor making sure the data collected is of good quality.
Prof Asante stated “We can achieve our development goal if we have good data to monitor the progress we are making”.
On education, he congratulated the government for the successful implementation of the Free SHS Programme. However, the Director had a few issues government could take on board and ponder. First was the need to begin a discussion on funding arrangement for the Free SHS Programme, and secondly proffer an answer to the question: What will happen in the next three years when the first batch of SHS is ready to enter the universities? Do we have the capacity to admit everyone who passes? He queried.
Prof Asante asked: What would they be doing after graduating from the universities?
He suggested the country takes the opportunity to export our services to English speaking West Africa where there exists a huge potential for skilled human resources.
Prof Asante expressed his deep gratitude to the Think Tank Initiative of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada for their continued financial support in publishing the GDSO.
During discussions on the reports a member of the audience sought clarification on the position that the 4-year duration of the SHS produced much better results compared to the 3 years duration as revealed by presentation on the report.
Addressing the issue, Professor Gyan Baffour stated that the government is currently assessing the effectiveness of the current three-year duration and will soon make a firm decision.
“The time lost, we have to make it up. That is the first thing that we are trying to do now, and based on that, we can now use the analysis that they do after that time, to see what the public thinks and to decide on whether we move for three years or four years,” he pointed out.