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Opinions of Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Columnist: Arthur, Patrick Kobina

Rationalizing The Strategic Priorities of National Development


Human history and evolution is synonymous with the evolution political
systems and in many cases the differences in the various systems has been
the cause of wars that claimed many lives.
The objectives of many of these wars were to ensure the maintenance of
supremacy and domination even though the inherent objective of such opposing
political systems have rather been the same. The human spirit and
desire for happiness, dignity and honour is the same and preserved in all
cultures and political systems be it Marxism or capitalism. It is also
evident in human history that the fear of the enemy from the outside has far
more power to incite a community of people to raise up than the fear of the
enemy within that community. This is even more the case regardless of the
net effect of the both sources of threat. Contemporary history of many
nations big and small lends a considerable support to this assertion, in
that, nations have gone to war over threats that was estimated to affect
about a million citizens whilst a failure of leadership that lead to hunger
and disease outbreaks that decimated tens of millions of citizens did invoke
any response at all. In this article we seek point out a number of common
grounds shared by some of the most bitterly opposed political systems
especially in regard of the defense sector and leverage such unlikely
commonalities in advocating for a reorientation and reorganisation of
thoughts and systems that operate three critical sectors of our national
life, these sectors are manpower development, health and agriculture.

* National Targets for the Various Specialties in Manpower Development*
National development should require ALL MANNER of SKILLS to make things
happen, therefore the education system should be so design based on the
number of specialised skills needed and the respective quantum. Failure to
establish will lead to the situation where students drift into courses that
they perceived to be 'cool' and readily employable. I have a first hand
experience from my encounters with students which has left very concerned
about their preferences in terms of various specialties of skills
acquisition. Apart from the fact that an overwhelming majority of each
graduating year group pursued arts and business over science and technology.
There is a rather disturbing trend of a large proportion of the already few
science and technology
students preferring to switch to the arts and business courses later in
life. There is therefore the need for a national policy that clearly states
the levels of the different specialties required for national development.

Also there is the need to compile a nation-wide data on students in the
different study areas, so that we can compare that to the targets and see
the way forward. A casual observation suggest that over 80% of each
graduating year undertake arts and business (almost all students in the
private universities study business). The reason why something needed to be
done urgently is that majority of these science students especially are
now studying science in an absent-minded mode. If indeed all manner of
craftsmanships are needed for development, then this current trend needs
reversing and leadership should take this up. The situation in departments
for the sciences is that the levels of laboratory equipment and reagents are
far lower than number of students and the quality of training they deserve.
To determine the number of student to be directed into different courses at
the post-secondary level, I want to propose the ratios for specialty target
setting in four major categories as follows:

*Proportion specialties in four major skills categories: *

Discovery and Design Specialties - 30 %
Enterprise, Innovation and Development - 50 %
Market - 10 %
Administration - 10 %

*Description of the four major categories:*
*Discovery and Design Specialties*: Natural Sciences, Agriculture,
Engineering, Mathematics, Statistics, Geography.
*Enterprise, Innovation and Development Specialties*: Engineering, Natural
Sciences, Medical Sciences, Agriculture, Mathematics, Statistics,
Vocational Skills and Performing and Visual Arts.

*Market Specialties*: Business, Economics, Social and Political studies

*Administration Specialties*: Governance, Social and Political studies

During war time, the military academies do not watch the trainees decide the
specialties they fancied but rather grouped them based on their assessed
abilities and the needs of the army. This is really the most accurate and
effective measure regardless of whether such an army is in the most
capitalist USA or the most communist Russia or China. Imagine most army
recruits choosing to be snipers because one is not likely to face direct
fire, so there an army of ten thousand strong men and all are snipers. There
is a generation of youth in this country who only fancy working in the banks
and closely related office jobs and by this drawing all the best talents
into jobs that does not really need that kind of talent. This country has a
shortfall of all its critical needs, such as clean water, energy supply,
food supply, sanitation and health care, and yet the majority of the youth
acquiring training wish to work in an office and in a Bank??? How does these
solve any of these shortfalls???

*Returning to Good Health and Staying Healthy*

A productive population is one that is not only well trained but also
healthy and grows stronger. The state of the health sector in this country
in one that needs alot of work to improve. Returning people to good health,
receiving the newborn into their new life, should not be an enterprise
that is monetized nor be controlled by commercial interests. Society should
make the health of its members a high priority that deserves a robost system
that does not demand individual to make payments to access health
services. The situation where health practionationers are concentrated in
the most commercially viable cities is clearly opposed to the idea of
ensuring good health for all members of society. As a country there is the
need to determine the number of hospitals that will ensure every citizen can
have access, not just provide health facilities where and when we can. This
will only create the condition of low life expectancy and low quality of
life that which could have easily triggered a war if the same was caused by
an external element. A country will judge an act as an aggression and
readily lunches a full scale war should a neighbouring country attack its
city and killed hundred people. The cost of the ensuing war will easily
surpass the cost building hospitals that will save the lives of more than
thousand people and yet we find this happening. What is it about leaders
that makes them rate external threats far higher than internal ones that are
preventable and curable at a reduced cost??? The provision of good shelter
is also a matter that promotes good health and a resetting strategic
priorities to make sure that there is shelter for every one before society
will spend resources to put up expensive buildings that serve only ecstatic
purposes. A few beautiful buildings do not make any country great when
majority of citizens put up in place similar to that for farm animals. Why
should we have to use so much money put up two tower near the airport when
the same sum of money could easily given a suburb of Accra (which is at best
about 90 % a slum settlement) a significant makeover.

*Putting Food on the Table and Assurance of Food Security*

As a basic human need, food supply should be a first choice priority item
just like training and health. In many established countries, agriculture is
fully paid for with taxes so the farms do not have to wait for harvest to
earn a living. So much subsidy is pumped into agriculture, that food prices
are consistently low and this arrangement is never opened for discussion
even if they turn around to force other countries to stop subsidising their
agriculture in the name of opened market economy. Meanwhile their economy is
only opened to commodities that cannot be grown in sufficient quantities in
that country. The agriculture sector should be managed with a military type
set up, where a service is created that recruit an elite and talented set of
people who are trained to manage the various agricultural activities. The
country is zoned systematically to make use of the productives of the
different arable lands and develop efficient irrigation system to ensure all
year round farming and production. The development of all upstream
industries should be done in a way that allow the maximisation of all the
primary production effort.

*It is all possible? Yes!*

I greatly admire the military system in every country because no matter what
the political system and culture of that nation is their army shares strong
similarities to any other army in the world. They take their activities
extremely seriously because their lives are involved, if a rocket squad is
poorly trained and are careless with their armament the effect will be a
massive destruction of the army itself and then the larger society. On the
other hand mainstream training institutions donot feel the same way because
they are only required to award certificates and not to provide the
assurance to society that trained persons will deliver on their set targets.
A country that crucially needs development should set it priorities with a
military attitude, because here too lives are at stake albeit from an
internal and indirect threat. If the human spirit should soar high over
poverty and not settle for easier options because it not an obvious etternal
threat then my message is that please wake uo because the value is the
same or even worse.
And yes it all possible.

Patrick Kobina Arthur (PhD),