The University of Cape Coast (UCC) has conferred an honorary Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership degree on President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo at a special congregation held in his honour.
The honorary degree, which is the highest honour given by the University, is in recognition of the President’s immense contribution to education in the country.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is the second President of Ghana after former President John Agyekum Kufuor, and the 40th outstanding personality to receive an honorary degree from the University of Cape Coast.
The Chancellor of UCC, Dr. Sir Samuel E. Jonah, explained that the Free Senior High School (SHS) Policy, was a major criterion for the selection of the President for the honorary degree. He noted that the policy has expanded access to Senior High School and paved the way for many young Ghanaians who otherwise would not had been able to afford SHS education to gain access into Senior High School. “The financial burden that has been lifted off some parents and guardians cannot be overemphasized. Without a shadow of doubt, the free SHS policy is a bold decision and one of the best social intervention policies ever taken by any leader of this country,” he stated.
Aside the Free SHS policy, the Chancellor noted that there were many other achievements by the President which contributed to his selection for the University’s highest honour.
The Chancellor noted that since the attainment of a full university status in 1972, UCC had sought to identify and award outstanding personalities. He said the achievements of these personalities encompassed any of the following “distinguished service to the University; distinguished service to the country or international community, distinguished service to humanity; outstanding pioneering role resulting in a breakthrough in an important sector of the economy, and outstanding original contribution to any academic discipline”.
Dr. Sir Jonah further indicated that “As we recognise the exceptional contributions of honourees to society, we also recognise and celebrate their lifetime achievements in specific fields that sets standards of excellence in society”.
The Chancellor of UCC urged the President not to forget the University, adding “As we do with all our alumni, we urge you to remember your alma mater wherever you will be and in whatever capacity you find yourself”.
In his address, the Vice-Chancellor of UCC, Prof. Johnson Nyarko Boampong, commended President Akufo-Addo for championing a number of reforms in the educational sector. He was grateful to the President for supporting the Institute for Educational Planning and Administration (IEPA) to be upgraded into a UNESCO Category II Institute adding “This has positioned IEPA as an enviable international institution”.
The Vice-Chancellor noted that his vision for the University is to transform UCC into a global entrepreneurial hub of academic excellence. He explained that the desire to empower UCC graduates to have entrepreneurial competencies was in line with the President’s policy initiative on National Entrepreneurial and Innovation Programme.
Touching on admission of students into the University, Prof. Boampong noted that only 43 per cent of applicants for undergraduate programmes were admitted by the University for the 2020/2021 academic year due to limited infrastructure. He further indicated that only 25 per cent of students were offered accommodation into the University’s Halls of Residence, leaving 75 per cent who were housed outside campus under very deplorable conditions.
To this end, Prof. Boampong appealed to the President to adopt the construction of a 5,500 student accomodation facility to be built in his honour to solve the accommodation crises in the University, and also increase enrolment of students. “Here at the University, Halls of Residence are named after great men like Casely Hayord, and Dr. Kwame Nkrumah among others, therefore, a new Hall of Residence, to be named after a great and illustrious son of Ghana, His Excellency, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo will be appreciated,” he requested.
President Akufo-Addo in his acceptance speech, expressed gratitude to the Governing Council of UCC for the kind gesture, and pledged his government’s unflinching commitment towards ensuring a better Ghana. The President accepted the Vice-Chancellor’s request to adopt the construction of a new 5,500-student accommodation facility for the University.
“I am delighted that this University, established in this famous town to advance the cause of education in our country, is the first Ghanaian University to accord me this honour, even though, I do not have the accolade of being its alumnus, because of the introduction and acceptance of the Free SHS policy promoted by my Government, which has expanded dramatically access to education, enabling hundreds of thousands of young men and women, from all corners of our country, to go to Senior High School” he added.
President Akufo-Addo stated that the Free SHS policy was an indication that Ghana could now begin to reap the fruits of the talents of all its young people considering the outstanding results of the first graduates of the policy in the most recent West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).
The President later joined the Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Registrar, and members of the Governing Council of UCC to commission a new administration block named after Rev. Prof. Emmanuel Adow Obeng (who was present at the commissioning ceremony), a former Vice-Chancellor, under whose leadership the construction of the building started.