Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Mr Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah on Friday said in spite of the indispensable role played by the Institute of Local Government Studies (ILGS) in national development, it had received little assistance over the years.
“Despite the critical role envisaged for the Institute, it has not received sufficient support (resources) to achieve its mandate over the past years.
“With the support of its Council, the leadership of the institute has had to adopt many innovative and practical ways to fulfill its statutory responsibilities,” he added.
Mr Afriyie-Ankrah made the observation at the maiden matriculation of students undertaking the Institute’s Masters Programmes in Accra.
He said Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs), which were to facilitate the decentralisation process in the country, had to be managed professionally and required a healthy human resource base.
“The Ministry believes that it is important that the necessary human resources are available in the assemblies to facilitate deployment of the limited resources, to meet the prioritized developmental needs of the people,” he said.
The Deputy Minister said it was satisfying to note that the programmes to be undertaken by the students had been particularly designed in response to the challenges and opportunities pertaining to local governance.
He said with the establishment of the Local Government Service, the challenges facing the administrators in the discharge of their duties had been enormous, adding that they needed to be abreast with trends in modern administrative and management practises to be effective.
“We expect your students to gain detailed understanding of the local government system, in order to effectively mobilise internal resources and provide an interface for community members and interest groups, to keep engaging administrators in finding solutions and creating opportunities towards local governance,” the Deputy Minister added.
He said the Ministry expected the programmes at the Institute to equip the students to become effective practitioners, by exposing them to critical managerial and technical functions, that did not only focus on the day-to-day administration in assemblies, but also enabled them to develop strategic approaches for quality service delivery.
“This would enable local government practitioners to appreciate their roles as developmental agents with the required tools to harness the resources at their disposal to bring meaningful grassroots development,” Mr Afriyie-Ankrah added.
The Deputy Minister said government’s goal was to facilitate engagement of the citizenry in decision making, and help them make informed choices as part of the “Better Ghana” agenda, adding that the Ministry expected the Institute to provide the core staff needed to deliver that promise.
He congratulated the ILGS, saying “The Ministry sees the matriculation as part of a broad range of activities and programmes designed to respond to the call.”
The Director of the Institute, Dr Esther Ofei-Aboagye, said the Institute was mindful of the premium that the government and Ghanaians placed on human resource development, saying “We are therefore going to work very hard to ensure that this trust is earned.”
She said from the day the Institute’s “doors were opened” in 1999, it was envisaged to play a critical role in establishing a strong and empowered local government system, that would deliver effective and efficient services to every Ghanaian as their right.
Dr Ofei-Aboagye said the “kernel of the dream” was retained in the ILGS Act, passed in 2003, adding that it was in fulfillment of the legal mandate of ILGS that the matriculation took place.
She said the students were expected to acquire through their studies respectable research analysis and communication skills, adding “We shall at every opportunity, encourage our students to take advantage of modern technology to come out with confidence and inspired agents of change, to move local level development forward.”
The Director of the Institute, expressed appreciation to the government, authorities of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, first and second Governing Councils of the Institute, National Accreditation Board and other stakeholders, who had contributed to the progress of the Institute over the years, and advised the students to take an active role in shaping and choosing what they learnt.
“You must customize and prioritize what is available to fit your needs and aspirations,” she added.
The 81 students made up of 85 per cent men and 15 per cent women, would pursue courses in Master of Arts Local Government Administration and Organisation, Master of Science in Local Economic Development, Master of Science in Environmental Science Policy and Management, and Master of Science Local Government Financial Management.