THE VICE President, Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur has commended the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Centre (KAIPTC) for training and equipping high-caliber personnel in the area of peace and security across Africa.
He said it was particularly gratifying that the Centre has made education available to a number of people in Ghana, across Africa and the rest of the world, who would over time help to address the peace and security challenges that exist in Africa.
Also, he commended the Centre for its contribution to regional peace and security, and research and training in conflict prevention, management and resolution.
This was contained in a speech read on behalf of the Vice President by the Minister of Education, Professor Jane Naana Opoku Agyeman at the graduation ceremony for the 2nd batch of students of Master of Arts in Conflict, Peace & Security, and 1st batch of students of Master of Arts in Gender, Peace & Security, at the Centre last Friday.
He said, although Ghana operates one of the best democracies in Africa, "It does not make any of us happy to note that other countries in Africa have not had similar positive experiences, with some remaining in major conflicts and others licking the wounds of conflicts."
Thus, Ghana has a role to support other African countries to create a state of stability, as an essential part of the foreign policy initiative of government, he said.
In view of this, he said, it was "heartwarming that Ghanaian institutions such as the KAIPTC are involved in working not only to prevent potential conflicts but to resolve existing conflicts in the region."
This, according to him, contributes to the government's educational policy to expand access to quality education and ensure the production of a critical mass of skills needed to spearhead the nation's development.
He pointed out that currently, eight out of the fifteen United Nations peacekeeping operations were in Africa, which signified the immense challenges on the continent.
Hence, he challenged the graduates "to contribute to reverse the current situation for sustained peace on the continent."
He expressed belief that "Africa can only come out of its development quagmire when we find solutions to unrests, caused in part by inequitable distribution of a nation's wealth and social amenities."
Further, he congratulated the graduates and advised them to endeavour to use the knowledge they have acquired in the service of all, especially the less privileged in society.
Also, he commended the governing board, partners and staff of the centre, both past and present, for their contributions to the success of the KAIPTC, and added that "a lot more needs to be done and I believe you are poised for the challenges ahead."
The Commandant of KAIPTC, Brigadier General O.B. Akwa said the Centre was established to share the rich experiences of the Ghana Armed Forces with their counterparts within the sub-region and beyond.
According to him, "through the visionary leadership of many noble personalities, this vision blossomed into fruition and today, we are all witnesses to what the Centre has achieved in its short span of existence."
He noted that the KAIPTC has lived up to its vision to equip military, police and civilian personnel with skills to effectively promote peace and security on the African continent and beyond.
In this regard, the centre has trained over 10,000 men and women in diverse fields of peace support operations and contributed to knowledge and academic discourses on peace and security, he added.
"Our support to the work of the ECOWAS and AU Commission, as well as the United Nations has been consistent and widely acknowledged", he stated.
Furthermore, he indicated that within the framework of training and building capacity for peace and security, the Centre hopes to use the post-graduate programmes to build capacity for military, police and civilian personnel at the highest level.
This, according to him, would contribute to the prevention of future peace and security challenges that may arise on the continent and elsewhere.
He used the opportunity to pay tribute to all those who have contributed to the success of the Centre and indicated that in the next decade, "we have set ourselves a new vision to be the internationally preferred Centre of Excellence for research and training for conflict prevention, management and resolution."
The Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Nana Oye Lithur, who was the guest speaker, lamented that although women and children are the key to development, yet they are the worst affected in times of war.
According to her, even though majority of women are usually said to be vulnerable, "they are also a great asset, instruments of maintaining peace, resolving conflicts and agents of change."
She said the KAIPTC's training in "Gender, Peace and Security" places a greater responsibility on them to ensure that gender concerns are mainstreamed at all levels of professions for holistic and sustainable development.
She said it was important to the ministry that in a delicate field such as security, which had previously been male centered in all aspects, "in recent times has adopted a gender perspective. This is indicative of the fact that the area of gender mainstreaming has no boundaries."
The minister urged researchers and authorities of the Centre to continue to identify new courses that address gendered issues in peace and security, while the ministry continues to tackle other areas to ensure a harmonious society through the survival and development of the sexes, children, the vulnerable and persons with disability.
She announced that her ministry was frantically working towards the passage of the affirmative action bill to address the inequalities in women's economic, social, educational and political needs.
Also, "the government is committed to ensure women's participation in politics and decision making by securing a 40% slot for women, for its "Better Ghana Agenda".
She recommended the Centre for increasing the percentage of women students from 29% in the previous year to the current 50%, saying, "these efforts complement that of government in adopting a gender perspective in all fields with the objective of achieving gender equality."
In all, 72 students graduated with 31 of them obtaining Master of Arts in Conflict, Peace & Security, and 42 obtaining Master of Arts in Gender, Peace & Security, while one student passed away on June 3, 2013.
Also, two students, Mr. Emmanuel Yeboah Ababio of Ghana and Ms. Abate Emebet Getachew of Ethiopia won the Commandant's Prize for overall best student for the Master of Arts in Conflict, Peace & Security, and Master of Arts in Gender, Peace & Security respectively.