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Entertainment of Monday, 16 May 2005

Source: GNA

Osaafo-Maafo calls for strategies to uphold nation's culture

Elmina, May 16, GNA - Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, the Minister of Education, on Monday said the nation needed to take a second look at cultural festivals both in and out of school and endeavour to "highlight the fine spots" in the country's cultural heritage rather than focusing on just drumming and dancing.

He suggested those areas such as drama, poetry, value system and other library aspects of the nation's diverse culture could be promoted. Mr Osafo-Maafo said this in an address read for him to open a ''National Conference on Culture and Education'' at Elmina. The one-week conference aims to create awareness of the importance of culture in formal education and to examine the implications of the nation's cultural policy for the teaching and practice of culture in schools and colleges.

It is being organised by the National Commission on Culture (NCC) in collaboration with the Ministry of Education with support from the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAF) and the Royal Netherlands Embassy. The participants include traditional rulers, officials from both public and private universities and from the ministries of Education and Tourism and Modernization of the Capital City.

The Minister said it was imperative to take cognisance of the impact of globalisation on the nation's efforts to preserve its cultural heritage.

''Although Ghana cannot live in isolation, we need to be resolute in our desire to enrich our culture and couch a self-respecting identity for ourselves".

"There is the need for a careful consideration to be made in building a cohesive social relationship between culture and education.''

''If we are able to tailor our education to meet the demands and realities of our developmental agenda, I am very sure that the great battle against ignorance, poverty, etc that confront us as a nation would easily be won," he said.

Mr Osafo-Maafo appealed to authors, publishers and policy makers to write and publish books and make appropriate recommendations based on the nation's experiences, knowledge and appreciation of its culture and local resources.

Prof Yoro Fall of the UNESCO Cluster Office in Ghana, expressed concern that Africa was "slowly losing her cultural values bench mark" because of the misunderstanding of development". He also underscored the importance of culture as a major tool for socio-economic development, describing it as the "mother of development".

Prof Fall said UNESCO is focusing on promoting culture as a necessary tool for development and stressed the need to develop ways to link education and culture.

Mr Bob Hansen, a representative of the Royal Netherlands Embassy, reiterated the embassy's readiness to support the preservation of the nation's cultural heritage.

He said the embassy has provided 225,000 Euros in support of projects aimed at preserving the nation's cultural heritage. Mr Ben Guri, who stood in for the Resident Representative of KAF, also pledged the Foundation's support towards the promotion of democracy and good governance.

Mr Isaac Edumadze, the Central Regional Minister, referred to sections of the constitution that place emphasis on culture as a tool for national integration and development and described the conference as a fulfilment of a constitutional provision.

Prof George Hagan, the Chairman of the NCC, said the conference had become imperative in view of the fact that globalisation had brought about an increasing concern about how to preserve and sustain the rich cultural diversity of cultures all over the world.

He said the conference is therefore aimed at discussing how Ghana could use its educational system to produce people who can follow in the footsteps of personalities like John Mensah Sarbah, Kobina Sekyi, Ephraim Amu and Dr J.B Danquah, who, although "steeped in western education, were committed to their cultural roots".