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Opinions of Sunday, 11 February 2018

Columnist: Dr. Samuel Adjei Sarfo

Our education does nothing for our development

With the inception of the free Senior High School education in Ghana, the government has the unique opportunity to put adequate measures in place to reform our education so that it will unleash the creative and intellectual potential of our citizens. As we speak, our school system has become inimical to our very survival as a country. People who have not attended any school impose no burden on the economy; their needs are quite basic, and they are not looking for luxuries like cars, computers, air-conditioners, or for any of those foreign goods that this country does not produce. They are satisfied producing the things of their own subsistence and care less about those high-priced consumables and tangible goods produced elsewhere.

On the other hand, our educated citizens, whose education does practically nothing for the country, suddenly become a huge liability on the country, demanding high paying jobs and expensive lifestyles which we, as a country cannot provide or produce. An uneducated person has no such expectations and works his own job to survive in his own modest world. But all of a sudden, once our citizens get education, they want the country to serve them merely because of their education: To provide them with housing, cars, clothing and all these other foreign goods which we must import by the sweat and labor of these uneducated folks. Therefore, the educated people in this country are just educated to ride on the backs of the uneducated ones.

And all these contradictions have arisen because the school system does not produce educated people with any creative or innovative abilities, or special mental capacities or even any good moral or ethical character. It is even possible to argue that the citizens of the country become worse in all these qualities and values once they are educated. Instead of training people with creative capacities to produce tangible things or offer novel ideas for the solution of our country’s multifarious problems, the system is busy churning out empty-headed parasites and hangers-on who demand goods and services from the country which it does not produce. Thus, our education has imposed a burden on the country while serving the economic interests of foreign countries.

Even the basic benefits of education, like scientific and logical reasoning, are lost to the country, since the most educated are still the most superstitious and the most partisan and most religious and the most ethnocentric and the most prejudiced and the most dishonest. Many educated Ghanaians are even incapable of providing any good examples and models in social cohesion and integration, environmental cleanliness or leadership competence. There are even those of our educated folks who are at present lighting up the flames of ethnocentric hatred which they would not have spread so fast were it not for their ability to read and write. Thus in Ghana, our education has done nothing for the country except to burden the people with the weight of unpatriotic conduct, crass parasitism and selfish dependence.

Our engineers engineer nothing to solve simple problems of housing or town planning or even the drainage system. The civil servants languish in government offices for hours on end doing nothing of substance and collecting petty bribes from those who come in to seek their services. There are also the police officers openly collecting bribes on the country’s roads and at other open places………….

The government must therefore reform the country’s education to focus on training the individuals who will unleash their creative genius to rebuild our shattered economy. We should quantify our educational success in terms of the productive impact it brings to the country. For example, if our trained scientists were directly involved in protecting the environment, combatting diseases, building the infrastructure and promoting hygiene among the people, then we could feel the full impact of their education and tangibly quantify their use in helping to promote the national agenda.

If our economists and political scientists were involved in identifying the total dependence of the country on foreign goods and creating and promoting products that will enable us to avoid this, that will make their education and training directly beneficial to the economic prospects of the country. And if our educational system imposes scientific thinking and rationality on the individual citizens and makes them less inclined to depend on magic and miracles…. to make them less vulnerable to religious faith and superstition, the nation will begin to reap the benefits of its huge investments in education.

We should by now be able to identify those things that our country needs, and to pattern the educational system to provide exactly these. And to my mind, we need to fashion our educational system for it to enable us to manufacture and produce those modern things that we crave for after our education: cars, computers, buildings and furniture…….We need to make our educational system goal-oriented to enable us to be self-reliant, preferring to purchase the goods we have ourselves produced, to hire our own contractors to construct our infrastructure and buildings, to promote our own businesses for the needs within our economy…..Our education system must also resolve our leadership crises and incompetence, our superstitious beliefs and archaic cultural and traditional practices, instead of making us dependent on outsiders and supernatural powers to come and solve our problems for us.

The educational structure should also be patterned to invest in the individual the character traits of discipline, honesty, patriotism, kindness, love, unity, hard work, social integration, national cohesion and sacrifice. Therefore, moral education and civic responsibility ought to be at the cornerstone of our educational system, which will then produce people of character and great wisdom, initiative, dedication and creative imagination. As we speak, our school system displays a huge hiatus in imbuing these qualities in the students.

Even the teachers themselves have no moral compass, being known for arrant corruption: grade substitution, sexual impropriety, plain partiality and implicit bias. They do not provide any good examples for the students to emulate and have no demonstrable dedication to any articulable national goals and philosophical viewpoint. That is why within the schools themselves, our students are hooligans, selfish, destructive and think more of themselves and what the country can do for them, instead of what they can do for the country.

We should create an educational system with huge focus on our national economic, social and cultural needs. We should invest in creating the individual with a fierce devotion to identifiable national project, disciplined to take leadership positions to protect the interest of the country with his or her very life, and intensely aware of his or her role in building a country that will succeed today for us, and tomorrow for posterity.

This is because countries do not grow into prosperity through any other means except when the citizens are trained to have the human and intellectual resources to solve the physical needs of their country, to eschew those evils that set the country back, to think scientifically and rationally, to avoid those cultural and traditional practices that are archaic and harmful, and to be devoted as the instruments and vessels for the prosperity and well-being of the nation.

By Dr. Samuel Adjei Sarfo

Attorney and Counselor at Law

Samuel Adjei Sarfo, J.D., is a general legal practitioner in Austin, Texas, USA. You can email him at sarfoadjei@yahoo.com