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Opinions of Monday, 1 September 2014

Columnist: Scofray Nana Yaw Yeboah

Ghana's Education is suffering from Kwashiorkor

The 2014 WASSCE results have sparked serious debate and series of discussions with the purpose of calling the attention of the government to the degenerating standard of education in the country.

Though the authorities in charge of education are of the view that this years’ results is one of the best in the past decade, we cannot doubt the ministry of education nor Ghana education service per their analysis indicators, but the heartbreaking fact is that Ghana's education is sick, malnourished. It can be termed a unique type of kwashiorkor that has failed to experienced transformation for over 2 decades.

There is clear evidence that our secondary system, pertaining to science and arts, have taken chunk of the numbers to the detriment of even the technical course of the Secondary Technical (sectech) Schools and the Vocational & Technical sectors.

Our education system can be likened to a malnourished child that has tiny hands and legs with a protruding stomach. The vocational is the tiny hands, the secondary is the protruding stomach whiles the technical is the tiny legs and we are not prepared to curb it.

When was the last time, in the fourth republic, did the ministry of education or GES published the performance of students from the Voc/Tech (NVTI and Technical Exams) sector? Are they all not students of the second cycle of our education? Why has teacher training and polytechnic become an option for suppose poor performing WASSCE candidates? What has been the stigma of all these years of our polytechnic and Voc/Tech graduates? What kind of remuneration does the job market place on graduates from Polytechnic and Voc/Tech as against University diploma and degree?

What generated the polytechnic degree brouhaha? Has government over the years invested monies into Voc/Tech like the secondary of the second cycle have gotten or seen? What investment provision has been made for the technical courses of the SECTECHs? How many Well equipped Vocational and Technical schools do we have in Ghana? The last count is Technical (23) and Vocational (29). Many private Voc/Tech schools have collapsed due to low enrollment and lack of funding.

For us to have the best overhaul to heal this malnourishment of our educational system, we must conduct a postmortem of our educational system post-independence era till date and juxtapose it to all the reforms and it's corresponding results we have achieved over the years.

Our first president Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah developed a strategic Accelerated Development Plan for Education, a blueprint for Ghana's education system to fashion out the intended industrialized nation. Training colleges were expanded, secondary school were strategically located, vocational and technical schools to spearhead our technological advancement were all given attention which gave birth to the setting up of SECTECHs, giving recognition to the establishment of University of Science & technology in Kumasi and Polytechnics for some regions.

His overthrow in the 1966 saw the truncation of that beautiful education agenda to facilitate our development as a nation. Kwapong Review committee tried to salvage the situation where many couldn't continue. And it is a testimony how the O and A level was at a point christened elitist; because the system did not create space for those who couldn't go beyond middle school and those who couldn't pass the O and A levels. Such is the challenge facing us today. What prevents us from visiting Nkrumah's post-independence blueprint?

The Dzobo Review Committee of 1974 introduced the concept of "comprehensive" Junior Secondary Schools to teach academic and practical skills to all pupils which was one of the finest ideas to have cut-to-fit solution to our educational system but once again lack of better transition of system after change in government couldn't make this idea materialized.

But in 1987, this idea was fashioned out and it also compounded our educational situation because we failed to put the right structures for the thorough implementation of such reform. There were no teachers who had the Vocational and Technical knowledge to equip the students with the said skills. It also exposed the lack of tried and test career counselors in our schools who can aid students chart a career path base on their performance in various subjects.

This was the best and only review that had a balance and same priority placed on both 3 educational sectors "Vocational, Secondary and Technical. But we had too much position holders in educational structures who were knowledgeable on secondary education ( sciences and arts).

This same situation showed up in the Prof Jophus Anamuah-Mensah review committee, and their solutions were not also addressed. Is it not ironic that governments were keen about category name changing and duration than the desired investment our reform is in need of?

Our greatest bane has been strong political will on education and our fourth republic governments must bow their heads in shame for this hereditary kwashiorkor deficiency. The state of our education is direct proportional to the nations’ snail pace level of development. It is obviously not surprising that none of our tertiary institutions made the league of best 20 Universities in Africa

China, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and America developed on the rails of Voc/Tech educational system as a fair proportion of education in its entirety. The very other vital aspect is the monopoly of WAEC as the sole certifying body to conduct examinations. Can't we look at it again? What kind if curriculum does the system have that most students fail in English, integrated science and Maths? What other examination body do we have to test our students? We must inquire if the modus operandi of examination has given us the desired results. Why did private school students pass well than public schools in the junior high?

The current WASSCE grading system is a clear manifestation of how even the secondary system is sick. How come A1-C6 gains admission into most tertiary institution while D-E are all said to be pass but goes nowhere whiles F is fail. What kind of logic and reasoning is this grading sort to achieve?

The above questions and details clearly expose how sick or malnourished our educational system have been over the years. And government is culpable in this ugly development.

There is no doubt about the fact that the transformation we desire to see will start coming alive, the moment authorities and stakeholders in education sector rise up to the occasion of this reality, with a strong political will from government.

God bless our homeland Ghana

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Scofray Nana Yaw Yeboah

Transformational Coach/Media Analyst/Author

Lead Consultant