Feature Article of Wednesday, 14 November 2012
Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame
Head of National Educational Reform
By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
The caption of this article is awkwardly – and uncharacteristically – long because it deals with a seemingly intractable but clearly addressable problem which, diligently confronted head-on, could singularly and effectively transform the destiny of our beloved country almost overnight, assuming the requisite resources would be promptly mustered to synch with the will of a forward-looking leadership. And I make specific mention of Vice-Chancellor Ernest Aryeetey as the subject of this write-up because at the most recent congregation of our nation’s flagship academy, the University of Ghana, this quite distinguished scholar and economist made a constructively poignant observation that was indicative of the radical depth and breadth of his understanding of the imperative need for an organic restructuring of the concept and practice of education and pedagogy in this country.
On the preceding count, a Ghana News Agency (GNA) report interpreted Professor Aryeetey to have pointedly complained as follows: “He [Professor Aryeetey] expressed concern that discussions on how the school system could be restructured[,] including issues of access and curriculum [development], and how these could be related to the tertiary [educational] system, was done in small groups without any reference to the broader set of stakeholders” (See “Prof. Aryeetey Chides Successive Governments on Educational Reforms” Ghanaweb.com 11/4/12).
Indeed, what is sorely lacking in the national discourse on education is the critical question of curricular relevance; and this is also what makes the decision of the Vice-Chancellor and his team of Legon administrators to decentralize the running of the University into discrete but organically interrelated disciplines, the way it has been done here in the United States for decades, all the more laudable. Even more laudable, in my opinion, is the decision by the Legon dons to accent, or emphasize, fieldwork and practical experience – or “Service Learning” – as an indispensable aspect of the tertiary educational curriculum. On this count, also, I must promptly observe that this call is decidedly objective and non-partisan, which means that it is not being made by this author with any regard, whatsoever, to the political affiliation and/or ideological orientation of the Legon Vice-Chancellor but purely on the basis of his apparently definitive understanding and appreciation of how a meaningful educational system ought to be operated in Twenty-First Century Ghana.
The title of the post of the Head of National Educational Reform could even be re-designated as Chairperson of the Presidential Advisory Council on Education and be immediately elevated to cabinet, or executive, status, with the rest of its membership being selectively composed of distinguished experts from the various academic and professional disciplines, and not on a facile ex-officio basis as appears to have traditionally been the case. The Minister of Education and his/her deputies could then be made subject to the authority of this special Presidential Advisory Council on Education. Needless to say, as it currently stands, the Ministry of Education is too bureaucratic and ossified, or ultra-conservative, to effectively and efficiently serve the at once highly specialized, diverse and sophisticated needs of Fourth-Republican Ghana.
*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is Director of The Sintim-Aboagye Center for Politics and Culture and author of “Ghanaian Politics Today” (Lulu.com, 2008). E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. ###