Speech of Mr. Alfred Konu

February 12, 2015

The Principal, Invited Guests, Staff and Students,

On this occasion of the Silver Jubilee of SOS-Hermann Gmeiner International College (SOS-HGIC), Tema, it is my privilege to wish the staff and students the very best of the occasion. It is perhaps very easy in the euphoria of our celebration to forget the difficulties and hurdles that this college has had to overcome to chalk its enviable achievements. I would like to take this opportunity of the Silver Jubilee to put the achievements of this College in some perspective, so that it can be more fully appreciated.

Beginning in the 1980’s, the economies of most sub-Saharan African countries, dependent for the most part on the export of primary commodities like coffee, cocoa, rubber and copper, went into a tailspin as the markets for these commodities crashed in the world-wide recession. The situation was compounded by mismanagement and corruption in government, costly subsidies for food production and self-sufficiency. Roads and power plants began to crumble. Indebtedness from trade imbalances grew and repressive political climates and interventionist economic policies scared away foreign investment. In the mean time, population growth rate kept soaring with declining per capita income. Here in Ghana, the 1980’s were characterized by the military regime of the PNDC, a regime which began in an unsteady manner, worked its way through a structural adjustment programme and eventually emerged under constitutional rule in 1993.

Now let me try and paint a picture of what had become of the secondary school system in Ghana during the 1980’s and early Nineties. Nearly all the category ‘A’ schools as for example, Achimota, Mfantsipim, and Adisadel were somewhat in disarray as a result of years of underinvestment.  If category ‘A’ schools were in disarray, one can imagine what must have happened to category ‘B’ and ‘C’ schools. The general cry on everybody’s lip was that there had been a drastic fall in educational standards, all the way from primary school to university.

Educational provision during the 1980’s was heavily state driven. Teachers’ salaries had become derisory and all sorts of private tuition arrangements arose in primary and secondary schools as ways of supplementing teachers’ income.

This was the general climate in Ghana when SOS-HGIC Tema was founded in 1990. The 1980’s have been rightly dubbed as Africa’s lost decade.

With this socio-political climate, I can well imagine the difficulties and bureaucratic hurdles that the foundation staff of SOS College must have had to go through. The interesting thing to note is that the foundation staff were preponderantly Ghanaian. Within the short space of a decade, SOS-HGIC, Tema had shot to the top of Secondary School provision in Ghana and Africa. And the significant fact is that it has remained at the top even up till now. This also goes to show what a good combination of determination, persistence, reasonable financial endowment and sheer hard work can achieve.

SOS-HGIC has indeed reinvigorated the secondary school system in this country, and you can judge this by the many private colleges that have tried to follow your example.

The mission of SOS-HGIC, I note, is to provide a school of excellence for students of SOS villages throughout Africa and for students of the host country Ghana, in spirit of Pan-Africanism, and an awareness of the social needs of the society, and to help your students gain admission into the best universities anywhere in this world.

As a keen observer of the educational system in this country, and as a parent whose children passed through the walls of this College, I can confidently say that you have ably delivered on your mission and you deserve to pat yourselves on the back.

Hearty congratulations to the staff and students of SOS HGIC as you celebrate your Silver Jubilee. I wish you many more successes in the years to come.

Well done and thank you.