|Sheikh Amin Bamba|
The Chief Executive Officer of the Bamba Islamic Institute Ghana (BII-Ghana), Sheikh Amin Bamba, has observed that one key factor that has slowed down the pace of development of Ghanaian Muslims is high rate of illiteracy.
According to him, “illiteracy has denied and continues to deny majority of our people critical information that they require to make informed economic, social and political decisions to improve their livelihood and general wellbeing.
“It is therefore logical to suggest that the appropriate strategy to address the illiteracy challenge is to use the United Nations’ concept of ‘partnership for the goals’, to package either relevant information or educational programs that can be delivered to the people through their religious and traditional representatives”.
Sheikh Amin Bamba said these in Tamale at the launching engagement of Traditional and Muslim religious leaders programme under the theme: “Promoting Community Development: The Role of the Muslim Clerics”.
The programme seeks to break both cultural and religious barriers to all development efforts, especially those that hinder regional progress towards the full realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
It also seeks to engage Muslim leaders to build their capacity and facilitate their engagement with relevant government and non-governmental agencies for the development of their communities.
Sheikh Bamba also cited the good initiatives of the Christian Council of Ghana and the Catholic Bishops Conference in the social and political development of the country, and lamented that “the Muslim leadership on the other hand have not, as a group, made that much contribution largely due to inadequate capacity”.
Thus, he indicated BII-Ghana’s readiness to initiate Traditional and Islamic Religious Leaders on various programmes with the primary objective of training and equipping them with skills needed to take proactive initiatives towards community and national development.
Supported by UNFPA, the issues identified by the programme being implemented by BII-Ghana through training in order to shape the wellbeing and development of the people of Tamale and for that matter, Northern Region, are maternal and infant mortalities. Other issues are family planning, child protection, child marriage, peace building, environmental and population among others.
The Head of UNFPA Decentralised Office in Tamale, Mammah Tenii in his address, underscored the need to bridge the development gap between Northern Ghana and the rest of the country.
“There is no doubt that there is development gap between Northern Ghana (the Savanna zone) and the remaining portions of the country. All indices of development point to this fact. Per the core principle of the SDGs, Northern Ghana cannot afford to be “left behind”, he said.
According to him, statistics from the 2010 Population and Housing Census report indicated that Muslims constitute 17.6 percent of the total population of Ghana whereas in the Northern Region, the figures show a whopping 70 percent.
“UNFPA is convinced that actively engaging community leaders including religious and traditional authority will pave the way for increase support for reproductive health and family planning”, Mr. Tenii noted.
He appealed to other development partners to come on board so that together, they could influence the total development of Ghanaians and for that matter, residents of the Northern Region.