Nananom, dear brothers and sisters, I thank you for giving me such a wonderful co-operation. We have learnt a lot from what various speakers have told us. We thank the Senior Prefect for her account of the activities of the school. The Headmistress has supported the Prefect in a brief report and laid bare before us the problems of the school but naturally also the triumphs and achievements of the institution. The Parent-Teacher Association too has given us the benefit of their experience so has the Deputy Minister of Education. We thank her for her assurance of continued support for the school.
Nana Adusei Poku, so ably representing Otumfuo the Asantehene, has assured us of the good wishes of His Majesty and undertaken, on behalf of Otumfuo, to supply one of the many items the school needs. We thank him.
Let me congratulate the awardees, both students and staff. We wish you well and continued success.
Jubilees are principally meant to provide us the opportunity to examine ourselves and take stock of things. If we realise that we have done the best we can in some things, we resolve to do even better on the next landmark occasion. If, on the other hand, we realise that there have been lapses here and there in our operations, we resolve to put them right.
I am of the opinion that these ceremonies, on the 25th, 50th, 60th, 75th, 100th, etc anniversaries, must have a message for Ghana. These are not occasions just to praise ourselves and bask in the sunshine of self adulation. They are occasions, I think, that we should use to give some serious message to the nation.
Let me begin by explaining honestly, sincerely and truthfully that what I am going to say, in what anthropologists call the ethnographic present, is not meant for or against any particular government. The target of my remarks is the past governments, the present government and future governments, as the case may be.
My message to the GES and the Ministry of Education and even the Government is that they should partner the Catholic Church in education, if they are really interested in the delivery of quality excellent education. At the end of the day, the partnership benefits Ghanaians, the vast majority of whom are not Catholics.
The Catholic Church all over the world has what we call Associations and Societies which specialise in different areas of life. Some Societies specialise in education and health care, to restrict ourselves to only these two areas.
The societies that specialised in education here in Ghana have been responsible for Holy Child School in Cape Coast, St. Francis Xavier Seminary in Wa, O.L.A. Senior High School in Ho, O.L.A. Senior High School in Kenyasi, O.L.A. College of Education in Cape Coast. The Sisters of the Holy Spirit are responsible for St. Mary’s Senior High School in Accra. One of such Societies is St. Louis which has St. Louis Senior High School here in Kumasi, Archbishop Porter Senior High School in Takoradi, and the St. Louis College of Education, Kumasi. The St. Louis Sisters were originally only educationists. Since they came to Ghana, they are into health as well and responsible for St. Patrick’s Hospital, Offinso-Maase, Asankrangwa Hospital, and Oku Clinic and others.
The point I want to make, brothers and sisters, is that the Catholic Church has these facilities that Ghana can utilise. Many of these Associations are in Ghana. You may not know but one of the best Basic School in Ghana now is run by the Marist Brothers at Sabin Akrofuom, near Trede. Martyrs of Uganda Preparatory School is manned by Immaculate Heart Sisters. The Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny are responsible for the Good Shepherd School.
God through the Church has made available to us the long standing expertise of these selfless men and women, missionaries, who come here not for purposes of trading but solely to help improve the quality of life of our people.
For decades we have been talking about partnership between the Church and the State. When we do that, we are not talking only about ownership and management of schools. What we are saying is that we have people with wonderful intellectual and human resources which Ghanaians can tap for nothing.
The interesting thing is that these Religious Priests, Brothers and Sisters are not the bulk of the teachers in our schools. In fact, in a situation where there may be 40 teachers, only one or two Brothers may be on the staff. In most cases, like Opoku Ware, St. Louis School, St. Augustine’s College, the heads are Ghanaian laymen and women. The expatriate Brothers and Sisters start the school and leave a legacy of incomparable educational excellence to be enjoyed by the nation.
About a month ago, when I was speaking at an identical occasion at Opoku Ware Senior High School as the Guest Speaker, I made a point that Professors J.S. Djangmah and Ivan Addae-Mensah, in 2010, in a report, singled out St. Francis Xavier Seminary, Wa and St. James Seminary-Senior High School in Sunyani for mention as two schools whose performance called for a study by the Ministry of Education and the GES as lessons for adoption nationwide.
What better partnership can there be than this? The learned men were saying that the schools must have a certain secret which underlies their success.
My point is that the government of Ghana, the GES or the Ministry should realise that Catholic schools are doing well (and who in Ghana does not know this?). If in one year, at the SSSCE, eight Catholic schools can be among the first ten best schools in the country, what prevents the Ministry from approaching or inviting the Church and asking the Church to help in establishing and implementing educational policies in the country? Why can’t the government encourage the Catholic missionaries to look after schools in the rural areas where some of their best schools are; St. Peter’s in Akwatia, St. Martins in Adoagyiri, OLA in Kenyase, St. Roses in Akwatia, etc.
Since people like Catholic education, why can’t the government work with the Church so that the Church would help in producing the type of education that these societies are so famous for, Societies that have produced Bishop Herman, Ho, O.L.A., Ho, O.L.A., Kenyasi, Holy Child, Cape Coast and so on?
At the pre-secondary School level, we have the Jubilee school, Cape Coast, Christ the King, Accra, St. Theresa’s Accra, Bishop Bowers, Accra, Martyrs of Uganda, Kumasi, Good Shepherd, Kumasi, Champagnat, Buokrom and the rest. The advice of the great educationists who want us to study the secret of the success of the two schools should be extended to the secrets of the success of Catholic schools in general? Why don’t we follow them, instead of thwarting the attempts of these well-meaning people? What is the point in always placing unnecessary obstacles in the way of the Church in using its members for the good of Ghana? What is the point in opposing the Church just for opposing it? Listen to any speech by a Ministry man or women in a Catholic school and the first thing he or she says is that the Catholic Church is well-known for its schools, hospitals, relief services, why can’t Ghana translate this appreciation of the Church’s immense contribution to the progress of our nation into action by making it easy for the church to continue to help us.
My appeal to Ghana is that, at least in the areas of health and education the Government should enter into a loving marriage between the Church and itself. I have mentioned a few schools bequeathed to the country which can be the pride of the educational system of Ghana. These schools were all started by missionaries and handed over to Ghanaians.
In the area of health these specialized Societies in the Catholic Church command at least 35% of the health provisions of the country. Medical Mission Sisters have, for a long time been the pin-point of medical attention in the Brong Ahafo (B/A). St. Louis Sisters have given us St. Patrick Hospital and Asankrangwa Hospital. St. John of God Brothers has given us one of the best Orthopaedic Centres in Ghana, at Koforidua. The Dominican Sisters have given us Akwatia hospital, The Holy Family hospital, Nkawkaw and Battor hospital easily the best gynaecological health institute in the country.
When we turn our attention to social welfare we can mention that in Ashanti alone we have the Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity who are looking after orphans, abandoned children, helpless dying adults and other physically needy Ghanaians. Their aim is to look after people who have no means whatsoever of rewarding them or sometimes even of noticing or acknowledging their help.
Of late, I have got the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul to come into the country to involve themselves in street children, AIDS patients, prostitutes and so on.
If you go to Nsawam, you will find there children who need orthopaedic attention badly, cripples and other children who are being looked after by the Society of the Divine Word (SVD) practically without reward. Recently the St. Louis Sisters have opened a school at Offinso Namong, the main aim of which is to cater for physically challenged babies and infants.
Thank God we have people who have specialised in these areas. They are not going to replace the government in authority. Why can’t we acknowledge, enlist and recruit, their expertise to help in producing the desired Ghanaian, knowing very well that they will not try to use their positions to proselytise.
We thank the Lord that under the headships of Sr. Mary Johannes, from 1952 to 1966, Sr. Mary Aideen, from 1966 to 1971, Sr. Marie Du Rosaire, from 1971 to 1981, Miss Lydia Osei, from 1981 to 1995, Miss Johanna C. Johnson, from 1995 to 2008 and Mrs. Theresa Addae Commeh, from 2008 to date, He has endowed Ghana with a Senior Girls’ High School that the nation can be proud of, an educational institution that for the past 60 years has sought to establish the much needed gender balance between boys and the girls in the matter of education.
Yes, St. Louis Senior High School is an institution which relying on the will, has done its best to make the dream of the Catholic Church with regard to Girl Child Education.
Long live St. Louis Senior High.
Long live St. Louis congregation.
Long live Ghana.
Long live the Catholic Church.