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Opinions of Monday, 19 May 2003

Columnist: Folson, Ako

Human Capacity Development and the Local Media.

As a young democracy, any observer of events in Ghana will notice a desire on the part of government to do well. This is exactly what society at large wants. However, it is evident also that there is some undesirable amount of chaos in the execution of plans, be it at the public level or private level.

The law seems cumbersome in all fronts and the people still equate democratic action with political action. This is where I believe that as a nation, we need to embark on educational campaigns to separate and clearly inform the public on our young democracy.

One public instrument, which can be used in an effort that no one else can, to help the process move along, will be the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC). It must in today’s age serve as a mouth piece not of government but of democracy in Ghana, and be able to line up programs which educate people from issues regarding our law to basic things like running a business. The reach of TV, in terms of audience will be far greater than what any one organization can hope for using traditional methods of information such as workshops etc.

The GBC continues to be a “sorry” institution without focus, and its role in Ghanaian society still is not what it should be. Granted that there may be financial issues to grapple with, amidst several private stations including cable all appealing to the Ghanaian audience, they must find their niche, which in my opinion should be nothing short of that equal to the Public TV system of the US or even BBC.

That is to be a wholesome station with family and educational programs that does not compete for ratings as the other commercial houses but rather takes into account the gaps in the networks performance and how GBC can be relevant in a wide spectrum of choices.

Education, or the lack of it continues to dog all aspects of Ghanaian life. People are definitely ill informed on so many issues, sadly even on local issues. It is high time the Ghanaian society’s plight got some ones attention. Information is the most valued commodity today in all circles of life and even though today it can be extracted from several sources including the Internet, we need an organization that can take what might be global issues, and modify it to fit a local context. We also need our local issues shared in a manner that creates understanding and opportunity, thus taking information and creating an asset out of it.

We do not need low budget, sick Nigerian films to dominate our TV time because we have incompetent, lazy or non-innovative media bosses amidst us. One show, which can be emulated and applied to other aspects of our society such as finance (stock market education etc.), the law, medicine etc, is the “Kweku one on one show”. A show that I believe attempts to educate and discuss matters in our society to an extent that is appreciable. It could even be taken a step further where such a show can be dubbed with various Ghanaian languages to educate the illiterate masses.

Can we as TV viewers start making noise to get quality programs of local content? It will only serve us well. The independent FM radio stations have taken a lead in this direction, as watered down as their efforts are, they continue to create meaningful programs of local content. Now we need TV and especially GBC to lead and not to follow.

Our democracy will only deepen as people have a better appreciation of the system. Also an understanding that the systems are entrenched and must be followed by all will only make democracy smoother. Democracy will only deepen as economic situations improve and information on things like how to prepare for a loan, or even where to go for specific type loans or services, can only help people who want to do something for themselves.

When you have a society where people spend up to $10,000 USD to migrate, whereas that amount could have been used in the local context to start a small business, one knows there are BIG issues, as one making such a decision does not see opportunities within. Simply the result of a poor local information system.

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

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