The Vice President, John Dramani Mahama, has advised Moslems and northern communities to prioritize education, especially that of the girl–child.
The Vice President, who gave the advice during the National Ramadan Conference in Bolgatanga on Saturday, stressed that education enabled people to take advantage of opportunities in the world of work for self improvement.
He expressed worry about instances where parents withdrew their daughters from school for marriage and asked that such negative trends be stopped.
“In this regard, I wish to emphasize the need for the education of the Muslim girl-child so as to empower her to extricate herself from poverty.
“The Muslim girl-child must be encouraged to stay in school and complete school in order to realize her full potential.
“They should not be married out prematurely or withdrawn from school to do menial jobs to support the family budget,” Vice President Mahama said.
He stated that all cultural practices and beliefs that inhibit the girl child from acquiring secular education must be stopped to pave way for her development.
Vice President Mahama said government had made progress in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on school enrollment and gender equity in enrollment and wondered why Moslem and northern communities had not taken advantage of it to improve upon their lot.
He said Government was aware that northern, Zongo and Muslim communities in Ghana constituted the most deprived segments of the society and that was why the NDC Government introduced social intervention programmes including the free school uniforms, free exercise books, increased the capitation grant and school feeding program and the one time premium payment for NHIS aimed at improving the quality of life of the most deprived.
He said: “SADA will be fully operational by the end of this year. We are just completing the process of appointing the senior management of the Authority. Government has so far allocated GHC13 million for the start up work of SADA. SADA is a 20 year programme which will see a complete transformation of the Savannah area of this country.”
Vice President Mahama said Government intended to provide SADA with the promised seed money to allow the Authority to smoothly take off adding that a Donor Conference would be held in September this year to allow the donor community to contribute to SADA.
He urged Moslems to educate the youth against Islamic extremism and to bury their differences as they were about to start the Ramadan fasting.
“Religion should not be a source of conflict but rather a vehicle for binding you together to live worthy lives by supporting the communities in which you live,” he said.
The Vice President said Government, since 2009, had taken practical steps to improve upon the organization of the Hajj and indicated that the few mistakes and errors that occurred would be avoided this year to enable Moslems to have a smooth pilgrimage.
He said, so far, arrangements in terms of payment of air fares by prospective Muslims were in progress and all signs pointed to a trouble free Hajj.
“Government is also putting in place a mechanism that would soon result in the establishment of an independent body to organize pilgrimages. The processes for the necessary legislative framework are currently underway and I believe this would be operationalised by 2012”.
He said the envisaged Pilgrimage Bill was not being set up exclusively for Hajj affairs but also for organizing religious pilgrimages to any part of the world and called for the cooperation of both Muslims and Christians as well as other people of different religious persuasions.
“I therefore envisage a situation where Muslims can in future go with their Christian counterparts to Jerusalem on pilgrimage,” the Vice President said.
He congratulated the entire Muslim “Umma” on the peaceful transition of Islamic authority from the late Chief Imam of the Ashanti Region, Sheikh Imrana Musah to Sheikh Abdul Moomin as the new Ashanti Regional Chief Imam.
Mr Mark Woyongo, Upper East Regional Minister, commended Moslems for their efforts at maintaining peace in the region and entreated them to work hard to resolve other conflicts especially that of Bawku.
In a communiqué issued at the Conference, participants agreed that if they sighted the Moon on Sunday July 31, Monday August 1,would the first day of the fasting and if not sighted on the said date, Monday, August 1, would complete the month of “Shaban” and Tuesday, August 2, would be the automatic day for the fasting.
It stressed the need for all regions to be given representation on the National Hajj Board.
The Communiqué also expressed worry about the spate of road accidents and called on all stakeholders to strengthen their efforts at addressing the problem.
It entreated Moslem parents to invest in the education of their children to open them up for meaningful opportunities.