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Feature Article of Sunday, 20 May 2012

Columnist: Boateng, Joseph

The Time To Change The Educational System Is Now

I would like to commend Ansah, Koduah Owusu on his article dated on the 13th of May, 2012 posted on the ghanaweb.com with the caption ‘The Need to Fine Tune or Change the Educational System Is Now’. Sir, you really deserve a pat on the back. Going through the comments on that article, it seems to have had a positive impact on the readers. I must say that your article has won the hearts of almost all of us. Every comment is craving for a change in our educational system.

The writer focused his attention on the higher level of educational system in Ghana by making comparisons with that of the developed countries’ educational system.

I will also like us to look at the educational system from the early or the basic stage. Those of us, who have had the chance to read education as a course and its related courses at the colleges and the universities, will agree with me that the critical stage and the best stage to teach and impart knowledge to an individual is when he is young. For instance, a child is able to learn a new and different language faster and better than the adult; whether you are a professor or whatever, you cannot compete with a child when it comes to learning new things or skills. As the saying goes ‘you cannot teach an old dog new tricks’. Though, we need to change the whole educational system but our major area that ought to be focused and changed is the basic level.
Almost all the numerous governments that we have had, both the past and the present, have tried their best to reform the educational system by introducing new programmes into the system, but I’m sorry to say this- they all have failed to achieve the aims with which these reforms were made. Some of the failures are due to certain reasons. Some of these reasons include lack of skilled personnel to implement these policies; others are also as a result of inadequate funds to run the programme. Again, changes in government is one of the contributing factors since every government comes into office with a different ideology and manifesto which they want to fulfill, hence the termination of the old policies by the previous government prematurely. If our political leaders are doing this among themselves thereby playing with the future of our younger generation, why then do we have to cry when these developed countries do not value our products (graduates) when they travel out of the country for jobs? Because of the ‘poor’ educational system we have been running in the country since independence, students who travel out of the country to further their education are made to start all over again if he or she wants to transfer his credits and continue from where he left off.
Considering the three main domains- Cognitive, Affective and the psychomotor domains made by Benjamin Bloom, an American psychologist which every educational policy (curriculum) is supposed to have. I will say we have failed as a country. The educational system has focused on only two of these domains, thus cognitive (head), and affective (heart) leaving out the third domain psychomotor (hand) which is running the economy of the world today. We need to fine tune our educational system to at level with the economy of the world today as our peer countries like the Malaysia, South Korea, India, Brazil did when they realized that they had to change their country’s economy. The only way to differentiate between a graduate and a non-graduate in Ghana is the size of English words (grammar) he constructs. Even in parliament during their proceedings, the only thing you hear is big words (vocabulary) that will make the Queen of England go for her old tattered dictionary for the meaning.
We need to wean our educational system from politics. There must be an independent and effective body, even though the Curriculum Research and Development Division (CRDD) is trying hard , but they need to be practical and do more research on the way to get the younger generation prepared for the future. The curriculum must be must be focused on creativity- how the individual can come out with ideas and invention to move Ghana forward. Even if we have to import the experts from Malaysia, South Korea, Brazil, India etc. to help us get to where they are now instead of moving from one country to another begging for loans to build toilets and other minor projects. We have done this before in the health sector, when we imported medical doctors from Cuba to supplement the doctors we have in the country. The experts can help the lecturers in the Teaching Training Colleges and in our universities. Our educational system is academic pen- bookish.
Our leaders have tried their best to put ‘food’ on the table for us every now and then looking for loans. If our leaders are able to convince these developed countries for loans, why can’t they ask for the ways they used to get developed? We cannot continue to ask for fish, but rather they should teach us how to fish. Like the Chinese adage puts it “if you give a man fish, you have fed him for a day, but if you teach a man how to fish, you have fed him his entire life”. I quite remember when I was growing up, there were some kids who were creative and could even build things like the generator to generate electricity; milling machine, and other creations that were beyond imaginations. What has happened to these guys? Where are they? Their ideas and creativity have been left to go waste. How can a whole professor of a university come and tell Ghanaians that all the things that Apostle Kwadwo Sarfo has been doing are reinventions? Can somebody and tell us what the professor of a renowned university in Ghana has been able to fix or invent? It is about time we stopped the talk and do or plan something better and beneficial about our educational system. We must move away from the liberal type of education and prepare our children for the future. GOD BLESS GHANA!

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