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Opinions of Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Columnist: Amponsah, Jerry

3-year SHS – Crass Reform to Make Next Generation Cassowary

We need to have a vision as a nation to produce more Nobel Laureates, more
writers, more Archimedes, more novelists, more poets, and, above all, more
quality leaders. The political jumble that is our country’s SHS is on display to
see in rancorous debate between the NDC and NPP. As Nelson Mandela, ex-President
of South Africa said “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to
change the world.” It is part of the function of education to help the children
escape – not from their own time, for they are bound by that – but from the
intellectual and emotional limitations of their own time. We all know that
education is the ultimate passport to secure our children’s future.

The interest in how our Senior High School (SHS) is portrayed, as if it is being
entered into some “Beauty Contest.” The NDC government’s strong desire about
battling its political agenda against the reality and public consensus is
galling. One becomes thoroughly disgusted with man’s inhumanity to man.
The government is making noise over lack of resources. But there are no small
steps in great affairs. Among the deficiencies concluded by the Presidential
Commission on Education Report to support the 3 year duration:
· Lack of adequate teaching staff and learning facilities.
· Poor infrastructural facilities.
· Low number of well-motivated and committed teachers.
· Poor management and supervision.
· The strong recommendation of the provision of adequate human and
material resources in all SHS in the country so that no school is disadvantaged.
Our government’s position is that we don’t have enough resources to immediately
cater for the above, yet we have this same government is rushing into a $16
billion STX Housing Project at the expense of the nation’s human resource
development. This is pure unadulterated mischief of the government’s credo. The
government thinks solving the educational system is invisible, and meaningless
and cannot make and score political points, displaying naked kleptocracy is
ridiculous. The ‘people’ who exercise the power are not the same people over
whom it is exercised. At best, the problem represents a political pickle for NDC
politicians; at worst, it creates a veneer of hypocrisy. The NDC government is
trying to rig the system against the interests of the students. The educational
system is now caught in a rising tide of mediocrity. It serves as a wake up call
to all stakeholders. We need not let the government steer the ship into an
iceberg. Oh my God, politics and greed is today ruining our educational system.
Ghana’s second cycle education is now undergoing a searing ordeal. The President
Atta Mills’ government is only reinforcing its myopic ideas yet it vigorously
claims it is a populist political party. Question racing people’s minds is
whether he was truly a teacher.

With the western world standard that we dream to reach, our SHS’s 3-year
educational achievement would not be considered stupendous. The government’s
thought of making the second cycle 3 years, is a set-back of making our SHS a
non conducive intellectual environment. Just a single stroke of the pen will
send vulnerable young men and women’s lives to doom. Ironically, this bad system
is being reinvented by people protecting their own interests. Our educational
system is about politics, politics is about power, parents and students have no
power.

Students’ unsteady faiths in the educational process have been shattered and
progress in life perniciously restricted for lack of adequate education. A
majority of the students are suffering a dizzying plunge in their evaluation
grades.
Our current leaders who were so fortunate to have quality second cycle education
before the 21st century are now planning doom for the future leaders. What the
government is meting out is precisely impeding the youth to excel. It is this
intellectual barbarism, perhaps more than anything, which lies at the heart of
the NDC government’s agenda. Its socialism ideas are for the systematic
exploitation and oppression of the people. Education in Ghana is now at a
declining rate. How are the country’s future leaders being developed to face the
future? Regrettably, pervasive politics and perks compromise our children’s
education. We need a system to enable the kids to have a sliver of chance in
life and make them cognoscente. Despite the hard work of many individuals and
teachers, who dedicate their lives to helping prepare children for a productive
life in our democracy, the system itself continues to stumble, and too many kids
pay the price.
Failure has been staring at students’ faces. Ghanaian youth currently enter the
university as foreign students and pay exorbitant fees if they don’t meet the
entry requirements. The current phenomenon in the SHS system is that a
considerable number of students go ‘4’ years or is it 4 years in disguise? We
pray that God aids our president’s four eyes to see clearer the astronomical
number of failed students of SHS who take remedial classes. Over 40% of the
candidates of the SHS cannot excel to the tertiary level which compels them to
take remedial or private classes for another year or more. This educational
shibboleth has come to stay, with most teachers taking advantage of this norm to
eke out their income. Schools and teachers are charging highfalutin fees,
enrolling in just a single subject, costing over GH30 cedis, making it highly
expensive on parents and guardians wallets. Currently, teachers devote their
energies and resources to the remedial/private classes at the expense of the
official SHS classes. There is a need to tell it as it is, many teachers are
having a field’s day, to turning the system into business. Is it not the same
deficiencies of resources the government is proclaiming loudly, being invested
in the remedial classes? I am belaboring such an obvious canker to our
‘listening government’ to take stringent steps because it is draining parents’
wallets.
The decision of cost-reduction sounds economical but stupid and unwise for our
nation building. Is the government embarking on cost reduction to kill the
talents of the country’s future men and women? We need to give the youth the
chance to shine. We must also help them learn how to embrace the inner life,
draw endless varieties of enjoyment from it, and move forward into new worlds
through disciplined performance and all the hard work their dreams demand. The
NDC government’s campaign words do not match its actions. So much promises, so
much waste, such a disappointment, such a shame, makes you sick. It sees no
importance in education. The country has lost the culture of reading; an effort
by Joy FM, of Multi Media, to revitalize it has fallen on the deaf ears of the
government. The government has sworn to plunge the country’s youth into a
culture of inferiority complex. Students come out of the SHS education
half-baked. The horrid picture of our educational atrophy is pitiful. We need
not to be disenfranchised, disillusion, nor accept mediocrity as normal.
The country has lost faith in its own educational system. Our kids have now
turned to social vices; sakawa, prostitution, armed robbery, etc. Problems
cannot be solved if its existence is either denied or concealed. The youth’s
problems now lie with the government. It is so removed from the people that they
are looked upon as foreigners. The government is now driven by self-interest, so
excessive that the students’ interests are forgotten. Who is speaking for our
voiceless children? Who?
President Atta Mills-led government has performed dismally on the country’s
education since it assumed office. His promises have now been transmogrified
into a melodramatic nightmare. Its drumbeat for the educational reform from
4years to 3 years will not augur well for the country’s quality of education.
It’s sad to see our educational system failing, when it’s so painfully
adduceable.

Our nation now has unintelligent intellectuals ruling. They claim to be bright
men but applying the “book” to real life issues and dilemmas has been a big
problem for our dear country – Ghana. We now have an amorphous group of
‘educated’ Ghanaians ruling.

Potential foreign investors are not charity organizations. They do not invest in
a country for the sake of investments. Among other key factors potential foreign
investors consider is the efficiency of the prospective country’s human
resources.

Turning around the educational system is not the solution, but teachers in
tenure need to be paid well; explaining to kids that university is a possibility
for them, and making sure that every high school student who graduates is ready
for university or a career. We cannot let our children fall behind. Bettering
the quality of young minds and preparing the country to put up a first-class
fight in the ring of international competition is one of the greatest challenges
facing this nation. Everybody is looking to take Ghana down with a better
educated population. And the situation looks bleak, with massive dropout rates
at the high school level. It is the responsibility of the country to prepare its
young men and young women to face the challenges that lie before them. Hostility
to education is one of the key problems the government needs to address. One
observes that a command of the English language is essential to communication,
comprehension and personal clarity. The youth today are facing a rough time with
their life in the hands of the unconcerned government. We are fully aware that
uncultivated minds are not full of wild flowers, like uncultivated fields.
Villainous weeds grow in them, and they are full of toads.
Wherever they burn books they will also, in the end, burn human beings.
Posterity will judge ….

Jerry Amponsah (King Sabbato)
New York.