President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo will, on April 24, 2023, perform the grand opening of the Accra World Book Capital, 2023 at the Accra Conference Centre.
The theme for the occasion is ‘Reading to connect minds for Social Transformation’.
The city of Accra was selected for its strong focus on young people and their potential to contribute to the culture and wealth of Ghana. Accra’s proposed programme seeks to use the power of books to engage young people, as an effective way of skilling up the next generation.
Addressing the media in Accra yesterday, the Education Minister, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, explained the rationale for the Accra World Book Capital. He recounted that in September 2021, the City of Accra was selected by UNESCO as the 2023 World Book Capital, following evaluation by the World Book Capital Advisory Committee.
He explained that Accra was selected ahead of other cities because the Education Ministry’s programmatic focus was on young people and their ability to contribute to the culture and wealth of Ghana through the power of reading.
Dr Adutwum stated that Accra, thus, became the fourth city in Africa to receive this title, making Accra part of the prestigious World Book Capital Cities Network.
According to him, the decision by UNESCO is an acknowledgement of the giant strides Ghana and Africa are making to develop their books and creative arts industries.
The Education Minister lauded the Inter-Ministerial Agency Committee, led by the Ghana Book Development Council, who put together the convincing dossier that won the nation the enviable title of hosting the World Book Capital 2023.
He stressed that the recognition should provide the opportunity for students to take full advantage of ‘reading books’ both in school and at home.
That, he indicated, would open their eyes and doors to opportunities to enable them to excel in life and also make them useful citizens.
The Education Minister further noted that the recognition is borne out of the fact that President Akufo-Addo had made education the focus of his administration.
“In fact, the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) has the President as the champion for domestic financing for education, calling for increased investment, efficiency and equity in national funding for education… So, it is no surprising that under his leadership, we have chalked this achievement.”
Dr Adutwum noted that Accra World Book Capital provides an opportunity for Ghana to do great things, saying “although it’s taking place in Accra, but all other regional capitals should embrace it since various activities would be held”.
The Education Minister stressed that the transformation of the society cannot be achieved without cultivating the habit of reading among children.
“It is important to bring to bear people and children who read for fun. I think it’s habit that must really be ingrained in the minds of children. Children should not see reading as a requirement by school. This should be one of the legacies of the World Book Capital. And I believe, as more people read, the book industry improves.
“Research shows that reading improves the learning outcomes of students in schools. That’s why in certain schools around the world, they’ve implemented and employed the ‘Drop Everything And Read’ – ‘DEAR’. So if it’s 15 minutes, 20 minutes a day, children are made to stop everything and read,” he stated.
For his part, the UNESCO country representative, Abdourahamane Diallo, enumerated the various benefits the nations stand to derive from hosting the event.
He urged the teams to continue working hard towards the success of the event for the country and the rest of the world. The UNESCO Rep assured that his outfit would support Ghana towards the celebration to enhance reading and contribute efforts in achieving the SDG 4 target by 2030.
“Accra will be the spot to visit this year to commemorate this occasion, and I hope that the reading of books will be given that prominence it deserves,” he said.
The Mayor of Accra, Madam Elizabeth Naa Sackey, praised the committee for its role and pledged to support the successful hosting of the event.
The concept of World Book Capital by UNESCO acknowledges the power of books and reading as corner stones to a more inclusive, equitable, peaceful, and sustainable society.
The Government of Ghana, believing in this vision, also recognizes the need to address barriers to equity and inclusivity in all aspects of societal life.
In education, for example, several actions, including, making secondary education free, provision of more schools and STEM centres across the country, developing adapted curricula at all levels, and improving the quality of teachers and the teaching profession are all efforts by the Government to guarantee a just and sustainable society.