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Opinions of Thursday, 15 September 2011

Columnist: Confidence, Abdulai Hanan R.

Education Is No Joke!

I need not start this article with one of the zillions quotations that underscore the invaluableness of education to growing economies like Ghana. There is enough evidence to admonish that our education should not be compromised no matter the status quo of our economy.

All the rich and natural resources of any country are useless, if the required human capital is unavailable to put them into use. Economies that kick started with ours are now formidable and resilient because they gave priority to education – the Asian tigers.

More and more tertiary students especially those in the varsities are falling off due to financial frustration. Those who managed their way through the system come out as “half-baked” graduates. The vista of our streets is a testimony to the rate of drop outs in the basic and senior levels of our education. Per Facts and Figures of Ghana, over 1,129,334 children are out of only primary schools whiles our illiteracy rate hovers at 35 per cent.

Over the decade, our educational reforms and its component parts including the laudable Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (fCUBE) has been a spectacular failure. Nonetheless, we still display gross happy-go-lucky attitude to the realities on the ground. What is the nemesis of our educational policies? My view is not far from yours.

The biggest enemy of our educational policies is politics. It is time we made the education sector completely independent of all forms of political miasma. The political-manifesto-to-and-fro policies of our education are doing us a great disservice as a developing country.

We need resilient, strategic and futuristic educational policies with no-nonsense law to ensure that it is not toyed on grounds of mere fulfilment of campaign promises. These persistent and needless rejig to the policies are not only wasteful to our constraint resources but thrash the educational system to utter higgledy-piggledy – no bearing.

Education is a right, and to make the right realistic, government needs to subvent more funds in the name of subsidies to our educational institutions to avert the mass exodus of students from schools, especially at the tertiary level. Any attempt to reduce government subvention to education will be perfectly chaotic from all angles.

Education is not all about structures; but the core values needed to help propel our society into a near perfect place. There is burgeoning of educational structures across the length and breadth of Ghana with positive correlation in the number of people leaving school. The structures do not make sense any longer. Of what use is a beautiful body (structure) to a bad soul (core values)? Our stakeholder, policy makers, in fact, everyone must put on his or her thinking cap to adding more meaning to our educational system.

Our obsession about structures is becoming a psychological problem. There are several great universities in the world (especially US and UK) that started under trees and plantations. I per se attended the whole of my junior secondary education under a mango tree in St Paul’s JSS, Tamale. I would not be educated, if we waited for structures. For instance, what sense will it make to be in a classroom without a teacher, textbooks, exercise books and other learning materials? Prof Atta Mills summarised my worry with the saying, “A government that attaches premium to formation rather than substance worships mediocrity”.

Sadly, tertiary education is fast becoming a preserve of the rich whiles some programmes at the university is no go area to most capable but incapable students. This is worrying trend that require strategic measures to ensure that education do not become a commodity of a capitalist economy. Most Ghanaians, especially the rural folks, earn less than GH?1,000.00 per annum. The average figures of admission fees into our tertiary institutions this year were GH?700.00 (Nurses’ Training College), GH?800.00 (Teachers’ Training College), and GH?1,400.00 (University undergrads). Strictly speaking, even a double-spine salaried teacher with bloated family cannot afford this. How more the Ghanaian blue-collar worker? Education is the last hope of many unfortunate Ghanaian youth – let us save it from becoming endangered or extinct in the realms of the poor.

Ghana will be doing Cos90 work if we continue to invest significant resources in students at the lower level of education yet allow them to waste at the higher level. Tertiary education must be made accessible to every Tom, Dick and Jane on bases of merit and affordability.

Perceived shenanigans and corruption of getting admission into our tertiary schools is an apocalyptic experience, especially, the health training institutions – admissions are on bid. The highest bidder gets it. Other institution will not only admit unqualified students but will admit, say a science student to do HND Accountancy option. Private universities, however, place more emphasis on ability to pay rather than qualification. What labour force are we producing? Admissions of tertiary schools should be sanitised to have the best going in and the best coming out! It is quality that matters not quantity. Garbage In Garbage Out (GIGO).

Therefore, I am appealing to the ruling government with her socialist ideology to pay more attention to education for it is indispensable in the realms of development.

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe” – this is a food for thought from Abraham Lincoln.

God bless Ghana!

*Abdulai Hanan R. Confidence*

*confidencegh@gmail.com *

*Faith-Hill** Community School** *

*P. O. Box** 1782**, Tamale*

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