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Opinions of Thursday, 4 September 2014

Columnist: Blege, Alex

Mediocrity can not be our best

…“Stroke of my pen” : mediocrity can not be our best


In English Grammar, adjectives qualify or describe nouns. This is common knowledge which any basic school pupil is aware of. If there is any pupil who does not know this, then probably there is a problem with the teacher or the pupil.
A few days ago, the West African Examination Council released the results of senior high school candidates who took their final examinations in May/June this year.
I know how it feels to wait for an examination result. Sometimes one dreams of making straight As, or a combination of the alphabets (A1-E8) that represents an excellent performance or a poor performance of a student.
The real deal is when the student receives his or her results and then he or she begins to know his or her fate; whether there is the opportunity to continue to any tertiary institution of his or her choice or if there is the opportunity to read a particular programme of his or her choice-it is a matter of how excellently or poorly that student has performed.
The West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE) came to replace the then Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination in 2006. The former was restricted to Ghana and the latter is across the Anglophone countries of the West African sub region -Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Gambia.
Records show that in Ghana, the first badge for WASSCE performed poorly and the subsequent performance from the 2006 till date is nothing to write home about. Less than 30% of students performed well this year.
We have a bad political culture which makes it a crime in the mind of the politician to talk about certain wrongs in a particular regime. We are not able to take off political glasses to look at things from holistic and apolitical lines. This culture is promoting mediocrity. We tend to compare worse to worse and then when it suits us we come to a conclusion.
The matter of poor performance goes beyond the political lenses and the attempt to score cheap political points. There are various factors that in my opinion are responsible for this poor performance from 2006 up to date.
These factors include negative attitude of students towards studies, negative attitudes of teachers towards their work, lack of teachers for particular subjects, lack of educational facilities such as libraries and science laboratories, globalization, poor parental control, and the absence of counseling and guidance units in the schools.
There is that sense of arrival when students get to the final year. At that level, private study becomes a matter of choice and not an obligation. The issue of running away from school to attend nocturnal programmes is rife. There is the issue of not attending classes.
When it gets to the final days a lot of students depend on what is called ‘apo’ with the mind that they can make it to the top. When the ‘apo’ does not appear in the examination then the results are the ones we begin to see.
There are equally students who burn the midnight candle so that they can make the grades. However, these students sometimes find themselves in schools that do not have teachers who are committed. It is not surprising to find a teacher of a particular subject attending classes may be twice or thrice in a term. Poor teaching methods can also not be left out in this problem. How then do you have students performing well with such teachers in the system?
Moreover, there is the situation of poor or lack of facilities in a school. There are schools that do not have libraries, science laboratories, and lack of teaching and learning materials in the schools. Consequently, no matter how a student studies in this condition his or her chances of making the grades are slim.
Our system has allowed a lot of things which are clothed in the garb of globalisation; telenovelas, the video games and the phones, and the obsession with entertainment and the foreign football leagues.
I love football. There is nothing wrong with football; the obsession with it is wrong. There is the new craze of spending all day to check on what is going on in the world of football and that of entertainment at the expense of their books.

Parents also have a role to play in the failure or success of their wards. Parental control and the lack of counseling and guidance units at various secondary is also another factor. It is sad that young people are confronted with issues that hinder their studies but do not have any body to talk to.
All said and done, this year’s result can only be described as “the best of a bad lot”.
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