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Opinions of Saturday, 1 November 2014

Columnist: Eyiah, Joseph Kingsley

Make Education a Priority in Ghana, Mr President!

By Joe Kingsley Eyiah, OCT, Brookview Middle School, Toronto-Canada Mr. President, what is happening to education in our motherland, Ghana? The Dr. Nkrumahs, the Dr. Busias, the Dr. Mills all started with the good education that Ghana/Gold Coast provided. They were taught by ‘satisfied’ teachers whose sacrifices could not be discounted!

Why are teachers in Ghana nowadays disgruntled? Why hasn’t your government paid the salaries of some teachers for about three years now? Why do we continue hear of poor results in JSS/SSS final examinations? Has formal education in Ghana been put on the back burner, Mr. President? Maybe you might not be the originator of the education woes in Ghana but since you have assumed the reins of governance of Ghana you must be prepared to lead out in tackling the problems which confront education in our beloved nation. Remember! Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown!!

Education has been the major facilitator and catalyst in the astonishing changes and transformation sweeping through the world today. The role of formal (school) education in the liberation of the individual mind as well as economic dependence and in national development is therefore quite obvious. Thus, education pays off not only in literacy but also in income! For example, Statistics Canada study prepared by University of British Columbia economists David Green and Craig Riddell, found each additional year of education boosts a person’s annual salary by an average of 8.3 percent. The report follows two other recent StatsCan (Statistics Canada) surveys comparing education and income levels. The survey found education was one of the most important factors contributing to financial security. And that, families in which the main income earner had a high-school diploma posted a median net worth of $62,500. If the breadwinner held a university bachelor’s degree, the number nearly doubled, rising to $117,500.

It is therefore quite obvious that education is very imperative to the sound development of individuals and nations. Every country ought to provide its people with qualitative and “not only quantitative” education! And every parent ought to ensure that their child gets the best of formal education as much as possible.

Unfortunate Trend of Formal Education in Ghana: But it would not be far-fetched to surmise that education in Ghana today is apparently in crisis - from the JSS through the SSS to the tertiary institutions. There is so much uncertainty about and mismanagement of the educational policies initiated by the PNDC government, which were strongly supported by the World Bank. Though things are not as expected, all is not lost yet.

Precisely, it is in the light of this crisis that the President of the land must put education above party politics. He must do something about and with our education. We have to put our heads and hands together to revamp education in Ghana.

The government is called upon to take immediate measures to addressing the rapidly deteriorating situation and the prevailing uncertainties. It is urgent for the Ministry of Education to put in place policies to salvage the trends of poor results over the years in the Senior Secondary School Certificate Examinations (SSSCE).

National Consultations: Minister Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah in a town hall meeting with some Ghanaian community leaders in Toronto-Canada recently, assured Ghanaians in the Diaspora that the incumbent Minister of Education in Ghana is holding consultation meetings with the key shareholders and recognizable institutions of education in the country that would address the challenges facing her sector and establish a formidable national education policy to stabilize the education system in the country. Such good intentions and moves are highly welcomed. However, we call for transparency and honesty in theses consultations. The exercise must be devoid of party-politics and personal aggrandizement.

Apparently, education in Ghana has suffered from lack of adequate funding and, inefficient management. However, the problem of poor results could not be put at the doorsteps of the government alone. Most Ghanaian parents/guardians and students everywhere (I stand to be corrected) do not take education seriously too! Being Serious With Our Children’s Education: Whilst it could be argued that poverty has denied some Ghanaian parents the “power” to adequately support their children in school, many who are financially capable are often seen squandering their money on fashion, drinks, and litigation at the expense of our children’s education. We fail to invest in the future of our young ones by failing to invest in their education today. For example, some Ghanaian parents who receive regular child support (in form of money) from governments of progressive countries like Canada where they reside spend the money on themselves instead of, say, buying education insurance with such money for their little ones’ future.

The government must support teachers in their efforts to ensure students’ successes in our schools. We cannot talk about raising student achievement without supporting the very people who will make this happen. All the stakeholders in education must support teachers with incentives to achieve ongoing teaching excellence for our students.