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Opinions of Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

GES Has No Business at Aburi Girls’!

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

I have been out of the country for nearly three decades now; and during this period, while I have fairly studiously followed developmental trends in education in the country, particularly at the secondary school level, the distance has meant that my familiarity with the system would, perforce, lack the intimate familiarity of a Ghanaian citizen resident on the home turf, as it were.

I have also intermittently followed arguments pertaining to the centralization of the student admission process, in the name of equity, and found most of such arguments to be more tinged with envy than sheer meritocracy for which the system was, supposedly, initiated. Indeed, while it cannot be gainsaid that every Ghanaian child of diligence and merit ought to be availed of equal access to attend any of our leading and elite high schools, pertinent sight is often lost of the fact that the natives and residents in the localities where such leading institutions have uniquely and historically contributed to the making of the same and thus deserve to be accorded a priority best determined by these natives and residents, themselves, working in a fairly mutually acceptable agreement with the Ghana Education Service (GES).

Equally significant to take into account is the fact that prestigious secondary schools like Aburi Girls’ have a Christocentric Presbyterian academic tradition that has been largely responsible for the curricular development of these institutions into the top-notch academies that they are today. What this means is that in order for the enviable tradition of discipline and academic excellence to be maintained, and even improved upon, it behooves the denominational authorities of these “missionary” schools to equally prioritize both the academic aptitude, or scholarship, of students admitted as well as their religious and/or ideological orientation; ideology in the latter instance, of course, refers to the personal and collective and/or familial values that come with having a certain Christian psychological temperament and orientation.

It is the apparent neglect of the inescapable centrality of the foregoing that may likely constitute the crux of the alleged “confusion” raging over the most recent student admission process at the Aburi Girls’ Secondary School. And it is also on this score that the top leadership and administrators of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana need to promptly step in, in order to provide the necessary guidance and direction to the “human robots” at the headquarters of the Ghana Education Service (GES).

It used to be, while I was growing up in the late 1960s and early 1970s, that the Presbyterian Church of Ghana had its own General Manager of Schools. My own maternal grandfather was a district manager of Presbyterian schools, in addition to being a district pastor, for a remarkable span of time. Needless to say, the current cultural crisis afflicting the country has part of its roots in this evidently unsound attempt by the central government to summarily secularizing the country’s educational institutions without adequate sensitivity to the significant history subtending their foundation and development. And it is on the preceding basis that any meaningful dialogue on the future direction and development of the country’s primary and secondary educational institutions ought to be predicated.

*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 the author of “Sounds of Sirens: Essays in African Politics and Culture” (, 2004). E-mail: ###