The Minister for Education, Matthew Opoku Prempeh has urged public universities to give opportunities to students from disadvantaged backgrounds to enroll on their programmes.

He stated “we can use education to change the destinies of many children who would otherwise be condemned to a life of little opportunity, deprivation and ignorance simply because their families are poor. That is the only way we can create a fair and equitable society”.

The Minister made these remarks in an address he delivered at the Convocation of the 52nd Congregation of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), held over the weekend.

He stated that, as part of Government’s effort to give opportunities to the deprived, 30% of places in elite senior high schools were reserved for children from public junior high schools in the Free SHS Policy, adding that Government believed that it was an important upward social mobility drive, given that many children from public junior high schools come from families with challenging financial circumstances.

Dr. Opoku Prempeh admonished KNUST, as the leading public university dedicated to science and technology, to concentrate on its core mandate and vision by ensuring that at least 80% of its intake is in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

He noted that Government continues to facilitate strategic collaboration with institutions of higher learning and other non-state actors to promote STEM education in Ghana, particularly among girls, and prevailed on KNUST to create opportunities for girls to enter into STEM education through and progressive admission policies and mentorship programmes.

The Asantehene, who also doubles as the Chancellor of the University, Otumfour Osei Tutu II, in his address, expressed concerns about the potential increase in enrollment at the tertiary level as a result of the Free SHS policy, a situation he noted, would require corresponding increase in financial and human resources to be able to cope with the student numbers. 

He entreated the Ministry of Education, the National Council for Tertiary Education and the Vice Chancellors Ghana to plan on how to effectively handle this imminent increase in demand for education in the country.

The Chancellor congratulated the graduates noting that KNUST has equipped them with skill sets to make their qualifications relevant to the job market and ensure their success in future endeavours.

“Success will come, but it will not be on a silver platter. It is a rough road ahead, but not an impossible one. Go out there and serve your country to the best of your ability, with integrity and a strong moral compass as your watchwords. No matter your academic laurels, your education will mean nothing unless you learn to serve the society through whose toil and taxes you have come thus far”, the Asantehene concluded.