Feature Article of Thursday, 20 September 2012
Columnist: Ayisi, Gabriel A.
What the country needs now is not free high school education. The argument is not whether the country can afford it or not. The idea is simply a misplaced priority. It is also not the politically correct thing to do at this time. Free senior high school is nothing but a populist promise designed to make the politician popular with the electorate. Objectively, what Ghana needs is not a welfare state, where government gives aid and hand outs to the people. The free senior high school education proposal can be equated to a welfare system designed to produce more unemployed graduates who would always be at the mercy of hand outs from government because the jobs are simply not there upon graduation.
What the country needs is the growth of the economy where jobs will be created to absorb the masses, especially, the unemployed graduates as well as the skilled. When the economy grows and people have jobs with decent incomes, they will be able to afford high school education on their own without subventions from the government. Not only will the resulting incomes from the jobs boost consumption, which will, in turn, spur more investments, but will also help alleviate poverty and lead to improvements in the standards of living for the ordinary Ghanaian. Improved incomes will also result in savings which the banks will make available as loans for more business growth. The expedient thing for our politicians to do is to make sure that the requisite infrastructures are in place to encourage the private sector to create jobs by setting up businesses. The government has to make sure that the country has adequate and continuous 24-7 energy supply without power outages; adequate water supply for consumption, sanitation, and industrial purposes; more goods roads to move goods and people faster; a corrupt-free legal system; a robust banking sector; small and medium enterprise/business development agency; investment tax incentives, modern communication and ICT systems to mention but a few. This is what we want to hear from our politicians. How can our politicians promise to industrialize the country when the above are wanting? It is just simply impossible to achieve industrialization of the economy without these infrastructures in place. What we need is concrete and sustained efforts to move the economy to its fullest development and stop giving handouts to the people. Our politicians think they can just say anything for our votes.
Rather than free senior high school education now, what we need to do in terms of education is to resource the schools adequately and restructure the education process to make it relevant to the development of the economy. We need to produce graduates with the requisite knowledge and skills suited for employment or continued education to the tertiary level. Our educational system needs to be retooled to produce entrepreneurs who would start their own businesses . Ghanaians need jobs in order to enable them to pay their own bills, including the cost of senior high school education. Our schools need better classrooms, well equipped science and computer laboratories, well trained, better remunerated, and highly motivated teachers, and above all, relevant development oriented curriculum suited for the 21st century.
Dr. Gabriel A. Ayisi
Honorary Chairman – Business Advisory Council of the United States