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Opinions of Friday, 20 September 2013

Columnist: Amedzro, Ernest

Are we closing the gab or widening it?

A homogeneous society may not be entirely desirable or even possible, however very deep inequality in society is destructive. As Karl Max opined in his infamous social class theory that the history of society is a history of struggles between the exploiting and the exploited, that is, between the ruling and the oppressed social classes and that a time will come when the gab between the “haves” and the “have nots” will be so widen that will necessitate a revolution, I am afraid to say Ghana is moving in that direction.
One of the signs of this is the numerous strikes by most public sector workers. Most public sector workers went on strike from the beginning of this year making all sorts of demands on government and the era of strikes is yet to be over. Some attributed these legal or illegal strike actions to the rolling out of the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS). However, the obdurate and uncompromising stance of these striking workers is due to the perceived or even real oppression and cheating through corruption by our political leaders.
Recently, there was a re-hatch of the argument of “Winner takes all” political system Ghana is practicing. I am not in anyway joining this argument. However, one thing that strikes me is a statement by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) National Chairman, Dr. Kwebena Adjei that “From now onwards, don’t let the winner takes all, let us share it”. Hearing this, I am tempted to ask “Share what?”
Our political leaders always make us understand that they are there to serve us and yet we now hear them arguing over sharing “something”. Is it the serving they want to share? Ironically, servers should rather be complaining of their burden, so if you hear them arguing over who should serve then there is something there more than just serving.
“If the green grasses are burning what happens to the dry ones?” the crust of the matter is that those complaining and going on strike are mostly within the middle class or a little below the middle class, then what will the very poor people do? If the gab between the well to do and the middle class is getting wider and so they are complaining, then it means the gab between the rich and the very poor is even wider and the population of the poor rather than reducing keep increasing. If therefore they want to revolt we may not be able to contain it. That is why we need to do something fast about this menace.
The reality in Ghana now is that the very poor person cannot educate their children to the tertiary level any longer. Education which used to be free from the basic level through to the tertiary level and even before you write your final exams, companies and institutions are waiting to recruit you is now costing so much that the peasant farmer and “table-top” retailer cannot look after their children through the tertiary education without any help from somewhere.
The recent announcement of the scrubbing of College of Education allowances is just about to dash the final hope of the poor in accessing tertiary education. I curiously ask a poor woman how she intends to recue her family from poverty. She brilliantly told me that she is doing all possible to educate her children. She might not be able to educate all her children to the tertiary level but she intends to see the eldest through one of the colleges of education because with the help of the allowances there she may be able to do that. Afterwards, with a ready salary work for that child, she will intend help her younger ones to pursue higher education and by their next generation, poverty will be eliminated from their family.
To this poor woman for instance, the scrubbing of the allowances at the training colleges means all her beautiful plan may suffer difficulty since that will make it very difficult for her to educate even one person through the tertiary level. How then will they be able to eliminate poverty from their family?
The only way equality can be justified is if among other things there are equal opportunity and labour market outcomes. On the contrary, what we see nowadays in this country is unequal opportunities especially in acquiring education and skills. Subsidies are been remove day after day with the promise of better helps which never comes to fruitfulness. Avenues that are created to alleviate the suffering of the poor like educational scholarships are still been taken by the same political leaders and their relatives who otherwise could afford the means to get all the education they wanted.
Affordability of education is only one of the nightmares of the poor in today’s Ghana. Accessibility to education is another headache of the poor. Protocol lists to our public tertiary institutions are so tall that the existing vacancies in these institutions cannot admit all the people on the list. Therefore, the “ordinary” people will have to wait till the people in the protocol list are admitted even if they are more qualified than them.
The recent pronouncement of the education minister to all public educational institutions to abolish the “Protocol System” is welcoming news. Nevertheless, that alone is an affirmation of the existence of this unhealthy menace. Just the announcement without any follow up action to actually address this menace will only buried the practice from the public view but continue to exist behind closed doors.
As for employment, the less said about it the better. Not only does the jobs don’t exist but the few vacancies that were created are reserve for the few privilege people who happens to have their people in the helm of affairs. Even the attempt to create employment opportunity for the masses of unemployed youths ends up becoming an avenue of corruption and enriching pockets of the rich and already employed.
I started by saying homogeneous society is neither possible nor desirable and I am in no way advocating for a homogeneous society. Indeed in Archaeology, class system is a prerequisite for civilization. However where there is no clear chance and opportunity for those in the lower class to move up base on their own merit and through hardworking, the very existence of the class system itself is threatened.
When people lose hope and believe in the future that through hardworking and dedication they will also move up the class ladder at the appropriate time, the stability of our society and most cherish democracy itself is threatened.
The poor must hope and believe that they will one day say goodbye to poverty because the nation rewards those who deserve it. But if the undermining of the poor, corruption in all sectors including education continues and few politicians keep arguing over whether the “winner” should take all or share it with the other few and upper class “losers” can the poor ever come out of poverty?






ERNEST D. K. AMEDZRO
BA (HONS) IN POLITICAL SCIENCE
UNIVERSITY OF GHANA
LEGON
EMAIL: ernestdka@yahoo.com
TEL: +233246629277