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Opinions of Saturday, 21 July 2007

Columnist: Owusu-Ansah, Kofi

RE: Education is the future of our children

Sir
Permit me to make this observation on our attitude towards education in Ghana and how that attitude is impacting negatively on our society.

Since the advent of free education introduced by our first president Dr Kwame Nkrumah in the early part of the 1960s and the subsequent gains in that front which made Ghana the place most Africans wanted to educate their children and which made the Ghanaian graduate the hottest commodity on the planet, the same can't be the case today. The military take over in 1966,and the subsequent take overs derailed all the bold strides we took in education. The military never understood the need to continue the needed investment in education and thus, education became a privilege where only the rich in society could afford the cost.

We have a history in Ghana whereby children from good homes, in effect, where the families were rich attended secondary school. If you were to ask anybody who attended Kade Presbyterian primary and middle schools in the mid 60s they would have told you that, Kwaku Amponsah,Ampong Wilson and this writer should have been on top of any list of candidates to go to secondary school but why couldn't they? They came from poor homes. Education in the 80s and the 90s became a members only club and no matter how brilliant you were, nobody cared that you deserved to be given the type of education that would make you contribute positively towards the development of our nation. The trend was set to the extent that all the years one spent in the then middle school became useless. You could not be gainfully employed because you could not go to secondary school and did not have the right education to be considered .

Even the Training Colleges that fees were not paid that you could have attended, the same rich in society made sure you couldn't. If there were 10 places, eight of those were allocated in advance even before the entrance examinations had taken place. I don't know of the trend in the country today because I have been away for a while. What am I driving at? To me, education should not be a privilege but a right. The state should be able to determine to some extent a level every child born in that country should reach in their education. In the past the measuring rod was a Middle School leaving certificate but can we same of the something today? At what level shall we expect and be satisfied that, at least one has been equipped to the extent that they can fend for themselves in the employment market? Most Ghanaians because of the laudable plans of Dr Nkrumah had the privilege to work as teachers in Zambia,Kenya,Lesotho,Swaziland,Botswana,the homelands of South Africa and Nigeria and they saw the way education meant to those societies. In Nigeria for instance, except where a student was lazy, there was no limit to the level they would reach in their educational pursuit. Every Nigerian father would sell whatever they have to make sure their children had the best of education. To them a child is a gift from God and that child needs to be nurtured and catered for because there is the belief that, they are a blessing. How about their counterparts in Ghana? Our fathers think very little of education and you could see that most of us from that poor background it was always our mothers responsibility to make sure we were able to attain this so called Middle School leaving certificate. No matter how brilliant you were and you are even today, your father would tell you: ' Kwasi Mensah went abroad and look at the house he has built.......'thus what is the point of him wasting his money. They call it: Waste of money! Investing in your children's' future is seen as a waste of money.

We as a people need to take a hard look at this situation because this is impacting very negatively on our society and even those of us who travel abroad. Most of the time we are duped into doing things an educated person who would not do. Why do most Nigerians enjoy the company of the Ghanaian? It is because the level of their education, make them see through things clearer than most of us and before we are aware, they have duped and swindled us. We need to wake up from our sleep and put value to the education of our children otherwise very soon, we shall have a beautiful Ghana where the Ghanaians themselves don't have any say in their own affairs.



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