Innovating With Integrity

INNOVATING WITH INTEGRITY

KOW ESSUMAN

SPEECH AT THE NEW NATION SCHOOL SPEECH AND PRIZE GIVING DAY CEREMONY

ACCRA, GHANA

24TH OCTOBER 2015

Good morning ladies and gentlemen.

It is a great honour to be here this morning to be a part of the Speech and Prize Giving day of New Nation School, and an even greater honour to be called upon to share a few words with you as the guest speaker. I will aim to keep my speech short, as I am sure many of you are looking forward to celebrating your academic success.

There are two topics I would want to speak about – innovation and integrity.

Our world is changing very fast. The challenge for us is to keep up with the change and if possible, try and stay ahead of the changes as they happen. This requires a new set of skills to meet this challenge. It requires creativity and innovation. It requires critical thinking and solution-oriented criticisms.

The word innovate means to make changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas or products. The interesting thing about innovation is the ability to think, and not only think, but also think critically. The innovator has an open mind, looks at his or her environment and thinks of how things can be changed or made better. The innovator asks critical questions and does not necessarily accept the status quo.

Ghana needs innovators to get to the next stage in its economic development. We therefore need teaching methods that shape the next generation to be innovators in their own right. Teachers and parents need to be accommodating of students that come up with new ideas and methods, and students should be encourage to think critically.

We are usually in awe when we hear success stories about the likes of Bill Gates, who founded Microsoft, Steve Jobs of blessed memory, who founded Apple, and Mark Zuckerberg, who founded Facebook. All these persons have one thing in common – they were innovators. They looked at the way things were being done in the world and came up with ideas to change the way things were being done, and actually changed the way things were being done.

For example, Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook while at College as a platform for Ivy League students to stay in touch with one another. That was an innovation. He changed the way classmates could remain in constant contact with each other. He did not stop there. Realizing the potential of a platform such as Facebook, he modified his own innovation and made it possible for everyone in the world to keep in touch with one another. If you use Facebook regularly, you will realize that there are changes every now and then. He is constantly innovating.

Locally, we have a few innovators who are doing interesting things. For instance, realizing that the medicine market was being flooded with fake and counterfeit drugs, Bright Simons and his partners developed a web and mobile technology to identify fake and counterfeit drugs in an effort to take them out of the system. Patrick Awuah is another innovator who is changing the way we educate the next generation through Ashesi University, which he established. The number of innovators in Ghana, however, needs to increase significantly.

The Bible admonishes us to be innovators and critical thinkers. In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus tells the parable of the three servants. The parable tells us that the master, who gave three servants money, was full of praise of the servants who invested his money, and not so pleased with the Servant who did what he thought the master would have done. At verse 29, Jesus says, “To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing even what little they have will be taken away.”

With these words, I strongly encourage you to use the talents that God has given to you to innovate and make a change in the world. Seek His direction and guidance. Think of new ways and methods by which you can change the world around you, for the better. Be innovative and creative.

While I encourage you to be innovative, it would be negligent of me, not to encourage you to do so with integrity. Integrity should be at the very heart of what you do, both at school and at home. You must strive to be a good citizen without cutting corners. You should go about your duties for others to say, “There goes a gentleman or lady of complete integrity.” You must be honest and have strong moral principles.

In fact, values and morals have been recognized as part of the requirements for a good, quality education. According to the UNESCO Education For All: Global Monitoring Report – The Quality Imperative, two principles characterize most attempts to define quality in education. The first identifies learners’ cognitive development as the major explicit objective of all education systems. The second emphasizes education’s role in promoting values and attitudes of responsible citizenship and nurturing creative and emotional development.

This is important for us as Christian because we are expected to be the light and salt of this world. A sustainable Christian education does not just happen. It requires the laying of a good foundation to build on; it depends on the degree of willingness of teachers and all other stakeholders to share the vision of the leadership of the Christian institution.

A sustainable Christian education in a competitive world can only be guaranteed when education is pursued through a process that puts the Bible at the center and asks the student and the teacher to evaluate all they see in the world through the lens of God – TRUTH.

I am happy to learn that the vision of this School included the words, “where truth and knowledge about God’s creation are pursued with excellence.” I am also happy to learn that there are prizes and awards for good behavior and attitude. These are very important virtues to instill in the next generation of leaders and I commend the leadership of this School for such a vision.

To you, the students, integrity means not cheating in exams, being honest to your classmates, friends, teachers and parents. It also means you cannot copy from your friends or from a source that is not allowed. You can however ask for help when it is permitted.

To the parents, integrity means being honest about the way you conduct your business and life. Your children learn from you so you must set a good example. We cannot have children with integrity, if their parents do exhibit such virtues.

To the teachers, integrity means being honest to your students, their parents and the leadership of this School. The students also learn from you and you must set a good example.

To the leadership and management of this School, integrity means being honest to the students, teachers and parents. It means staying true to the morals you have set out in your vision and are seeking to instill in these children.

And finally, to us all, integrity means not cutting corners in an unauthorized way.

Before I sit down, permit me to refer to a quote from a speech delivered by Theodore Roosevelt in April 1910 in Paris, France. He says, “The average citizen must be a good citizen if our republics are to succeed. The stream will not permanently rise higher than the main source; and the main source of national power and national greatness is found in the average citizenship of a nation. Therefore, it behooves us to do our best to see that the standard of the average citizen is kept high; and the average cannot be kept high unless the standard of the leaders is very much higher.”

On this note, I say congratulations to all the prizewinners and those received various awards. You have worked hard and deserve your prizes and awards. To those who will not be receiving a prize or award today, I encourage you to work hard and continue to make your parents and teachers proud. I must also say congratulations to the leadership and management of this School for winning the Best School in Ghana award in the Cambridge IGCSE Exams.

Thank you and God bless you.

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