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SoNA 2016: Prez Mahama Announces "New Teacher Professional Dev't Programme   
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Prez John Dramani Mahama
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Government has introduced a new Teacher Professional Development programme to enhance the skills of teachers at the basic level across the country.

The President John Dramani Mahama announced this on Thursday when he presented his fourth State of the Nation's address to 6th Parliament of Ghana.

He informed the House that 54,800 children in 4 regions have been enrolled into schools under the Compulsory Education program.

He said in June 2015, a total of 10,000 made in Ghana sandals, free uniforms, and text books were also distributed to pupils as part of government's social interventions, adding that all the textbooks were printed in Ghana under government directive thereby creating 1,400 new direct jobs.

The President told the House that the over 200 community Day Schools being built would create 200,000 new places in the SHS system and that the move was the biggest ever expansion in the entire history of Ghana. President Mahama added that enrolment in tertiary education had hit 6.3% for university education and 8.9 for polytechnics.

As a result of the establishment of the University of Health and Allied Science in Ho, a total of 816 direct jobs have been created from the established by government, President Mahama disclosed.

"Government is on course to build one university in each region," President Mahama further noted, adding that six polytechnics have been shortlisted to be transformed into technical universities.

The President said abolishing the quota systems in teacher training colleges across the country had increased enrolments, announcing that government would establish the first Islamic Teacher Training College in the country.

On Health, President Mahama said government had constituted a technical committee to re-design the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), adding, "Ghanaians are living 14 years longer than average life expectancy at the country's independence. We are poised to invest in the treatment of diseases through lifestyle choices - hypertension, diabetes.

In 2015 11.2 million people used the NHIS.  This is an "undeniable pattern of confidence" in the use of NHIS. ‘Government wants to make medication affordable to all Ghanaians, more than Gh₡50 million has been disbursed to local Pharmaceutical companies and duties on imports of raw materials for the local production of drugs have been removed. Tobinco Group, Ernest Chemist have all benefitted," he said.

He said over 2 billion dollars had been invested in Health infrastructure with over 6,000 beds to be added to hospitals and health centres by 2018. Some of the infrastructural developments in the health sector according to President Mahama, includes the Construction of University of Ghana Hospital, expansion of Police Hospital and Tamale Teaching Hospital, the construction of 60-bed hospitals in some districts and the refurbishment of the 12 -bed intensive care unit at Korle-Bu.

He also mentioned the transformation of the Volta Regional hospital into a modern teaching hospital to help the University of Health and Allied Science train students.

Touching further on government’s social interventions, President Mahama hinted that about 14,000 cards have been issued to the elderly in seven regions under the LEAP programme.

"Under LEAP about 144,980 households have received monies on a monthly basis. A 42-year old woman Zenabu is an example of a LEAP beneficiary who has invested her LEAP grant into animal husbandry. With one piglet, she now has 10. She is able to buy enough food for her household and take care of her family since her husband passed away," President said.

He informed the House that the disability grant is to be increased from 2% to 3% while other employment opportunity programmes were being rolled out for disabled in society. "More than 2 million people in Ghana are disabled, hence, it is unwise and unconscionable for government to turn a blind eye on disabilities," he observed.

He also announced the construction of a new prison block to decrease conjunction in the country's prisons.

On the economy, President Mahama said government had managed to reduce the wage bill from 8.9% of GDP in 2012 to 7.9% in 2015 and promised a strict fiscal discipline this election year.

President Mahama said he took over an economy with about 11% fiscal deficit, largely blamed on public sector salary adjustment, adding that government had to revise its budget because its sources of revenue from exports declined drastically.

He hinted that the Ghana Export Bill to finance exports would be laid in Parliament to support the growth of the private sector and promised to sign the bill into law as soon as parliament passes it.

President Mahama told the House that about $201 million worth of investments were awarded to indigenous companies in the oil and petroleum sector under the local content law.
Source: ISD (Gilbert Ankrah)

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