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Opinions of Friday, 29 July 2011

Columnist: Asigri, Daniel Zanyeya

I am jittery of a ‘two-tier system’ of education

I am jittery of a ‘two-tier system’ of education being suggested...!

I remain keen on reading Dr Sekou Nkrumah’s article of 18 July 2011 with his assertion that: “I’ll vote for Mills but I won’t campaign for him...” I admire Sekou’s present political views which are somehow too far divorced from mine, which are his and his alone and that must be respected! On the other hand, I become jittery whenever I read and re-read his views about the current educational resources on the part of the government which he sees it as ‘haphazard’ that lacks vision. I emphasize with Dr Nkrumah’s view that, “If you move a school from under a tree to a block that is not education...”! In fact, I vividly recall my former lecturer Prof Malcolm Skilbeck (1986) at the University of London, Institute of Education in one of his most succinct lectures on Education. Prof Skilbeck cited: ‘A boy who had just left school and was asked by his former headmaster what he thought of the new buildings the boy said, “It could all be marble, sir, he replied, but it would still be a bloody school”’ (echoed by loud cheers from the audience). Quality education as Sekou stated does in my view call for a re-think and choice in the curriculum, whether referring to the decisions made by teachers (and others) about what and the how of teaching or to the choices ‘students’ make among all the things available to them in the curriculum, depends on information, skill, understanding and a disposition to exercise the choices that may be available. Lacking commitment to the principles of choice, lacking knowledge of what could be done, lacking effective access to a wide array of courses, materials and strategies, lacking sophistication and competence in curriculum decision making, one can see that, teacher choice would be nothing but an empty formula. One kind of answer sometimes given by Karl Popper’s criticisms of holistic thinking and social planning (Popper 1962) is that the teachers, and perhaps the whole school, must learn to think reflectively – creatively as well as critically – about the curriculum, to deliberate upon the practical, everyday problems of schooling and to proceed in the curriculum as problem solvers.

Dr Sekou Nkrumah suggests for the provision of elite schools (a two tier system) in every region “even if only a few – Ghanaians are given the best education...” by the NDC government that in my view, purports to believe in the principles of social justice! One wanders how our late President Dr Kwame Nkrumah (RIP) would be responding to his son Sekou’s call for elitism in education in Ghana. Personally, I do not share with Dr Sekou Nkrumah’s idea that elitist approach to education would necessarily provide quality in education to all Ghanaians. Indeed, Gandhi is supposed to have said that ‘Equality is not the end, it is the way.’ I believe that the same applies to the principles of social justice! For, the notion of social justice has a long history in philosophy and politics as it can be appreciated, and carries within it the same connotations as ‘equality’ as Dr Sekou Nkrumah has indicated. Some emerged discussion on social justice (Morwenna Griffiths, 1998) is worth mentioning and might cause some conflict of interest in Sekou’s elitist approach – that, it is good for the common interest, where that is taken to include the good of each and also the good of all, in acknowledgment that one depends on the other. Secondly, that, the good depends on there being a right distribution of benefits and responsibilities. Much as it can be seen depends on ethical and other analysis as it involves terms like ‘good’ and ‘right’.
I sometimes ‘frown’ and ‘jitter’ whenever I read or hear about the concept of ‘elitism’ in education - perhaps a negative/positive perception on my part, I don’t know! Hence I do not intend to adequately explore this section as shown by Dr Sekou Nkrumah to my/your satisfaction with my apologies.

By: ASIGRI, D. Z. (EdD; M.A.; Med.; Bsc. Psy; DipEd.; Cert. Ed.; R. N. T)
Health Care Researcher