Ghana’s Education System: A Failed Sector (A Cry of the Universities)

Nelson Mandela once said: ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world’. It seems this reality, with which many western and Asian countries are living in, is yet to be realized in our part of the world.

Consequently, politics has become the weapon which gradually depreciates our educational system. The many reforms in our education system continue to be about merging subjects and removing others as well as extending and reducing the years of stay rather than equipping the student with requisite skills. In short our education system is based on knowledge acquisition rather than it being skill oriented.

basic educaThe basic level education is becoming bewitched with bad education like a bad bullet banished from the barrels of guns berating books bought by barristers. Many of the primary and junior high schools still lack basic essential materials like chalk, exercise books and text books to facilitate learning. The computer is still an imagination of the student in the rural areas of Ghana when it is drawn by the teacher on blackboard that needs some plastering. Aside these challenges, there are still schools under trees that are being taught by teachers who never get nominated for National Best Teacher Award. With most, if not all, primary and junior schools not having science laboratories to enhance the understanding of the student, how do we expect the school pupils to appreciate the subject being taught them? No wonder majority of junior high school leavers fail in Integrated Science during the BECE. It is time we grade the student according to what he or she can do rather than what they can remember. Aside these nemeses, there is also the crippling school feeding program which focuses on getting students fed rather than providing essential nutrients that will enhance the intellectual growth of students. The quality of teachers in this arena supposed to provide a firm foundation in education for students can also be an article on its own.

Furthermore, in the past two political seasons, politicians have succeeded in drumming into the ears of Ghanaians the need for free SHS education. The current government has decided to pilot this idea to make it a reality. I am not against free education. Rather the timing and also looking at the current state of our Senior High schools makes it a bad prishsority by government. In some regions, you have about ten schools, if not more, sharing the same biology, chemistry, and physics labs. Other schools do not even get to know these laboratories until it is time for WASSCE. Government subsidies for food served to students during breakfast, lunch and supper never comes in time. Headmasters still worry about the electricity and water tariffs that are supposed to be paid by government and are never get paid in time. With all these glaring challenges in the senior high schools, if there is any form of funds that government can allocate in making it free, wouldn’t it be better if they first strengthen these institutions to provide quality education for the people of Ghana? Imagine every senior high school with state-of-the-art science and computer laboratories with well-nourished students who get proper food at their dining halls. Certainly students will be able to put in their best in becoming the best they can be. Also the structure of the SHS system must be put up in order to at least make the student address the basic problems in Ghana and suggesting appropriate solutions to them upon completion.

Regarding the tertuniiary sector of our education system, the Vice Chancellors of the various universities are pushing for students to pay for utility bills or else ‘shutdown’ the universities as government seems not to be upholding their responsibility of paying for it. Obviously if students are to pay for utilities it is likely close to about half of the people who gain admission to the universities wouldn’t be able to come. Of what use then will be free SHS if there is an expensive cost for going to the university? Obviously education will be for the privileged in society. However, a solution could be that government can constitute renewable energy systems in universities, like solar power, to cater for the increasing electricity demand. It is truth that the cost of installation is high but also providing this will be a life time solution to the power demand of the universities. Also, due to the large numbers in the universities, there could be a biogas plant set up to produce gas by linking all the lavatories within a particular university. Students can then use the gas in cooking to prevent them from using electricity hence saving power. This biogas plant when set up could also serve other communities which the universities can sell to generate funds to run their day–to-day activities.

Nonetheless, I agree government cannot provide the need of every Ghanaian to the fullest. That is why the role of the government must be established as well as the parent. However, a government which wants a future for its people will invest in education, quality education for that matter. Chapter 25 (1)(c) of the 1992 constitution of Ghana states that higher education shall be made equally accessible to all, on the basis of capacity, by every appropriate means, and in particular, by progressive introduction of free education. I guess this is yet to be realized.

In Japan, the country with the second best education system in the world, their education reforms included investing in early childhood education by integrating childcare and kindergarten to upgrade the quality of education and create universities that promote innovation and foster human relation. South Korea, the world’s number one country with the best educational system, invests 7.6% of its GDP i.e. $7652 per student, in education. They have the best childhood education system in the world as a result of the reforms they undertake.

If Ghana wants to develop to meet up with the rest of the world, it will depend on the kind of investment our governments put in the sector.

But I believe in Ghana and rise we can, but when?!

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ANAS AND HIS ALLEGED SEA OF CORRUPT JUDGES (MY TAKE)

When the guardians of the law become the breakers of the law there is a reason not to trust them. When bald headed men who wear wigs to hide their hairless heads convict and discharge wrongly all because of a bag of coins there will be mistrust in the system they belong. When the red robes they wear are smeared with innocent blood of victims who were never guilty, we are sure to have ourselves in an epic state of conundrum. Yet they operate from places with inscriptions such as JUSTICE IS NOT FOR SALE and still work under a coat of arms which reads: FREEDOM AND JUSTICE. Evidently justice had been for sale and certainly to the highest bidder.
As the nation awakes from the exposed cracks in the judicial system which is supposed to be immune to all forms of corruption and be able to administer justice without fear or favor, one wonders how and why a sensitive arm of government which is supposed to be the last resort on all disputed problems engage in such menace without regarding the law.
Obviously Anas Aremeyaw Anas has once again proven himself as a distinct journalist who continues to name, shame and jail corrupt public officials who taint the image of their profession.anas
However, the reason these judges are being deemed to have done something wrong is as a result of the existence of laws in Ghana. Some may argue that should the Rule of Law apply here or the Rule of Common Sense? My view is that what makes them guilty should be used to judge them and in this case it is the law. It is therefore resting on the Judicial Council to restore the faith the public once had in them by dealing amicably with the solution.
After this case, the concern of many will be whether to take cases to the law courts which have been set up to administer justice or resort to ANTOA for a quick relief of charges. We patiently await September 22nd for a video which has already gone viral even though it is not a sex tape.
But I believe in Ghana and rise we can. But when?!

TALENSI: A TOWN I NEVER KNEW

As Talensi gets richer by the second as the by-election draw close, we are once again forced to have a look at the theatrics in our politics. I wouldn’t be surprised if by the end of this by-election they will be the town with the highest GDP in Ghana. It is an uncovered truth that sharing of ‘pre-electoral’ goods to electorates has gained media attention nationwide and it without fail eats me dry.
Bags of rice are reportedly been flown to the place like migrants crossing from Libya to France. How I wish these grains under the arrest of some political cohorts would have actually been grains that could have been cultivated up north to ease on the importation of rice which somehow affect the poorly performing cedi. Monies are allegedly being carried in school bags for distribution. How I wish these school bags would have been filled with exercise books to give to the schools in that area for students to use in their schools. It is truth that even with the so-called Free Basic Education many exercise books cannot see a student through a term of the academic year.
Roads are being constructed at lightning speed and street lights are being fixed with torches at night. Houses are being connected to the national grid as it continually puts more pressure on Akosombo and I am certainly sure ECG will become more ‘dumsorific’ by the end of this by-elections as they will put out lights left, right and centre. How I wish they will appreciate that their importance of existing is not only limited to an election but rather they can demand accountability from government at any point in time.
Indeed, fate has it that this is the best time to hail from Talensi, a town I never knew. Many of their family members likely to be in Old Fadama may have trekked to the town to be beneficiaries of these timely blessing following their eviction and evacuation.
Away from these personal thoughts to some worthwhile juxtaposition, as the United States spends billions on space explorations we are yet to have a complete road network linking any two major cities Ghana, not to even talk of a railway line. As the Adomi Bridge prays for survival, the bridge over the Mississippi River still stands after over a hundred years. As Japan is moving at lightning speed with trains, we are still trying to sweat our way in traffic on potholed roads which are fit to organise an international oware competition. As we continually get ‘dumsorfied’ because the sun has dried up parts of the River Volta, Russia is having plans to invest millions into solar energy in the temperate region it finds itself.
If our politicians, as they preferred to be called, really believe they deserve the soiled thumbs which will be put on printed ballot sheets, then I think it is high time they treated our nation with more respect and dignity as they do these electorates. Ghana has come too far to be behind and it is about time we rise.
With all these politics which allows people to enrich themselves in a short while in our country, I am sure if there were to be an Albert Einstein in Ghana, he would prefer being a flag bearer of a political party to being the mind behind Relativity Theory that no politician in Ghana will have interest in. Oh Ghana, our pitiful state is really sad. But I believe in Ghana, and rise we can. But When?!

THE DOCTORS ON STRIKE (MY TAKE)

i find it laughable, although at the same time sad, that almost all workers in tdocs on strikehe health sector are going on strike. The doctors were the first to set in by asking for conditions of service. Is it wrong for doctors to ask for a condition of service as they risk their lives day and night trying to cure patients of contractible diseases?
Members of parliament nearly declared ‘strike’ some time back if they did not get a pay raise. If those at the hem of affairs do not learn to sacrifice for the good cause of this nation should the people who are already sacrificing their lives not be able to ask for an improved service?
Our presidents are flown out of the country for better medical check-ups even if it is malaria. This shows the less attention that has been given to the development of the health sector and how inferior it is to international standards.
Now the nurses are also going to go on strike if they do not get their pay arrears. Psychiatric nurses are also threatening to go on strike and i wonder who will now be taking care of psychiatric patients.

Until we learn to prioritize as a nation we shall continue to have many small problems, which is a very big problem.
But i believe in Ghana, and rise we can. But when?!

A CALL TO BE PATRIOTIC

It is four years to the dawn of the 21st century and my friends and I are racing to the tip of the exposed gutter leaving at least five feet. It was a moment in which we engaged ourselves in shooting our urine into the choked sewage. The females who were nearby with their flat chest exposed to the ultra violet rays of the sun and just wearing grey panties smiled at our newly found sport.

I am sure it was mainly because it involved the use of our sprouting cotyledons. If only we had known their ironed chests would have graduated to becoming a matured citrus fruit, we would have had different plans.

But this is not the reason for this script. Four years before this epic scene, I remember images of my dad as he came back from work. He will sneak some toys into my cradle. It included a toy doctor, police man and an aeroplane for me to play with. I was a few months old but my memory started to record images early. Certainly the thought of seeing his son grow up to take up prestigious positions seem to be his drive. As we were growing up we would be lashed for going out of the house to go and play soccer. A moment I dreaded.

But some twenty years down the line, the eldest amongst my sibl

patriotic

ings has seen the light and now buys football for his one year old son. An opposite world to what I lived in some years ago. I am sure after seeing 3 million US dollars flying to Brazil with guards in a presidential jet he has seen a possible future for his son. An issue that made patriotism to be a talk on the airwaves for another two weeks.

But who is oft to blame, in this country of ours where every problem is sugar o’er the devil himself? A problem that has confirmed the adage ‘religion is the opium of the masses.’ But to me it is our leaders who are to be blamed. The mismanagement of resources and misadministration of public equities have made this nation a destination for hungry political activists whose bellies are empty. You are seen to have a dreaded disease if you betray your political party to salvage the nation and hailed as a demigod when you do vice versa.

But Martin Amidu has broken the trend and has seen to the state becoming some millions of euros richer. An expedition he went on which members of his own political party said will be fruitless. Using his own pocket money, he forwarded the case involving Isofoton and Waterville in a judgement debt scandal, to the highest court of the land and has since his victory received applause from the discerning Ghanaian who is of the view that government must be held accountable and the checks and balances of this democratic nation must not be of just theoretical appreciation.

We live on a continent where presidents never declare their assets to the people. Many of them tend to become richer than the states they govern after their tenure of office. How ludicrous! Policies seem to stand the test of time only when the same political party is in power and soon becomes history when a new political party mounts the throne. Sustainable development is a mirage and a music sang by the opposition in government. But it soon becomes a dirge in their ears when they win power. Indeed, the poly tricks in African politics are poly ticks that suck the blood of hope from African citizens, under the guise of providing better lives, pioneered by masqueraded angels on sheets of ballot!

Kofi Annan, the former UN Secretary General indicated that the African continent spends close to 35 billion dollars on importations each year. An amount that when invested into the continent will make it a hub for future development. I don’t the blame the myopic vision of our leaders whose reasoning is at its peak only when they are in opposition but the silence of the people they govern. For this world is a bad place not because of the actions of bad people but mainly because of the silence of the good ones.

Now the trend seems to be changing and the realisation that partisanship is killing the vast majority of living Ghanaians have woken the minds of the elite of our society who took to the streets to occupy the seat of government. Their action seemed to have communicated to the presidency that indeed the people have a voice. It sought to communicate to the world that people should not fear their government but government should fear its people. For it is from the people that our system of governance is derived hence its authenticity. Neglecting the voices of even the least person will be to relegate to the background the very entity that strengthens the constitution, the people.

Notwithstanding the above, the nation is not only the people but the people are those who can determine the future of the nation. The need of the majority supersedes the need of one and it is to this reason we elect members of society to manage affairs of this nation and to implement policies that will seek to provide a better living environment not just for the present but for posterity. This can be achieved if the canker of partisanship which is eating us up is scraped for the hearts and minds of people.

Nothing can be achieved if there is no starting point. That is why I recommend this is started from the very top of leadership in society. If we the citizens realise that government officials who squander public funds are being held accountable and not given other political appointments due to their worth in a political party it will ring bells of caution in all of us. It will make leaders become more responsible and accountable as they avoid mismanagement of the country’s limited resources.

Until the many in politics uphold patriotism as virtue and not as an allegiance to one’s political party and personal interest, we will continue to linger in this limbo of a resurrecting Ghana. But when? That is why it starts with YOU!

Author: Kotey Edwin