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Opinions of Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Columnist: Adzokpe, Jonathan

Ghana’s educational system: do we really need reforms?

There have been many proponents who have argued that Ghana’s educational system needs reforms. One of recent comments was made by Dr. Ekow Spio-Garbrah, who’s now the President of the Dominion University and a one-time Minister of Education.

I believe these commentaries are all targeted at making the graduates being churned out job ready and useful. I have no doubt that these are very appropriate measures to make our educational system more effective. Most of these reforms being proposed are either about the number of years spent in school or the curriculum in use presently.

Beyond these reforms, I think there is something very basic we are all missing; and that is the amount of investment we are making in the educational sector as a country.

Now tell me, of what benefit will any of these reforms being proposed be if the right amount of investment in human resource and infrastructure is lacking? Recently, we have had a whole national debate on whether our Senior High School should be three or four years. While one party in government instituted four years, another reverses it to three. Aren’t we wasting the tax-payer’s money on all these committees that are constituted to sit and make these up and down reforms? Let’s take a brief look at some figures. According to official figures, Ghana’s public spending on education as a percentage of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has reduced in recent years from 5.74 per cent in 2008 to 5.5 per cent in 2010. Spending per capita per student in primary education has reduced from US$12.7 in 2008 to US$11.4 in 2010 in the primary educational sector. And the story isn’t any better for the higher levels of education.

We have utterly failed in our bid to invest in our teachers to equip them with newer and relevant teaching skills to in turn equip our students with the 21st century problem-solving and analytical skills. They continue to instruct these students who are going to face 21st century problems with 16th century approaches and solutions. How do we ever expect the graduates to do any better on the job?

This is a simple case of “Garbage In, Garbage Out.” If you invest nothing in your teachers and students for that matter, expect nothing.

I believe that we can take pragmatic steps and put away all of this three or four years Senior High School drama, and invest well in our educational system. As far as we invest properly, it wouldn’t matter whether students spend two years or even just a year in school. That way, we’ll be convinced of better human resource who will best serve the nation in various facets of its developmental agenda.

What we need now might not necessarily be reforms, we need investments. Modern classroom blocks, ICT centres, continuous training and attractive remuneration for our teachers and educational workers. Let’s put these in place, and I bet our graduates will be top-notch who can compete at any level globally.

The author of this article is Jonathan Adzokpe. He’s a writer, speaker, educator, and entrepreneur. He also hosts a motivational radio talk show program dubbed “Motivational Arena” at 10:00 to 11:00 GMT every Saturday on a Russian based radio station, Nash Radio. (www.radionash.com). You can contact him via his email on jadzokpe@gmail.com