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Opinions of Thursday, 6 August 2020

Columnist: Gilbert Adiikanaam Amaakaro

Redirecting the educational policy discourse of Ghana, a necessary need under coronavirus

File photo: Free education File photo: Free education

Since Independence, there have been several attempts by successive governments to direct the course of education in this country.

The Education of the Ghanaian child as envisaged in the Constitution of the Republic of Ghana has been the centre stage of various engagements of governments.

Regime upon regime, have tried to politically dictate the course of education in this country. The Ghanaian child and the Ghanaian teacher have been the victims of several bombardments of ad hoc Educational policies. Mostly teachers are the hardly hit when these Educational policies are not yielding the desired results.

Ghanaians have been made to believe that the final grade is the correct reflection of the impact of a particular educational policy. This has made the craving for the final grade, a hunter's target. It is pathetic to see how various ways are employed just to make one’s school praise worthy and a target for proper education of one's child. The craving to have the so called better education for one's child has given parents sleepless nights to get the so called better schools for their wards.

If actually everything is all right thus our Educational policies are good, then what causes the influx of the so many unemployed graduates in the system?
If our Educational policies were right and our national goal of education, well-rehearsed and targeted, the end product would be very useful.

It is clear that our Educational policies are not tilted towards making the Ghanaian child self-directed, self-reliant and problem solvers but rather making them dependent on others. After school graduation, the happy Ghanaian students begin to have high hopes of being employed.

However, they are quickly disappointed upon realizing that they had towed a fruitless course. It is common knowledge to find very vibrant youth seeking employment in all sectors of the economy and have to even take the risk of picketing at the Jubilee House to no avail.

There have been several government attempts to find a remedy to the situation of youth unemployment through temporary measures but still that too is not working.

As I penned down my little thoughts, several questions came into my mind which I will like us to share. Thus:

1. Where have we gotten it wrong?

2. Are our educational policies detailed enough to get us to our national goal?

3. What do we want our final products to be like?

4. What do we need to do and do it better?

5. What is the cost involved?

The Educational Policy guidelines are not clear and should be looked at again. If this is not done, we will continue to build the school structures, change the contents of the textbooks, change the pedagogy, force teachers to teach the way that suits us and put billions into education but the story will remain the same and the same blame game will continue.

Countries such as Japan, China, USA, Russia, Germany and many more have gotten it right through the establishment of Policy Communities through stakeholder engagements which every government in power cannot change but rather make it better for the country. Ghana can learn from them.

It is very clear and undisputed fact that COVID-19 is disrupting the academic life of this country and will continue to stay with us for a very long time.

We need a clear cut policy on how to run our educational system under COVID-19. Should we continue to place emphasis on our exam based educational system?
Isn't the world tilting towards technology? Do we have to run our traditional system of education again? What is our Policy on Sciences and Technology Education?

The externalities of education are numerous under Science and Technology. Just recently, we have technically minded Ghanaian students coming out with technological items to meet the challenge COVID-19 has imposed on us. When there is a clear cut policy regarding Education in this country, various sectors of the economy such as the Agricultural sector, Service and Industry will be greatly functional and contribute immensely to the growth of the economy.

The private sector will be fully functional. The Educational Policy discourse needs the engagements of all and sundry.

To be able to guide our discussion on the subject, we need to remind ourselves of the discussions on the subject of Policy.

According to Bittel (1985), Policy is a course of action or in action intended to accomplish some ends rather than specific decisions or actions.

Bullock, Anderson and Brady (1983) state inter alia:

1. Policy is goal oriented behaviour

2. Policy consists of a course of action and not independent decisions made by government officials

3. Policy is directional

File and Proudfoot (1994) are of the view that Policy is an authoritative determination by a government authority. It is a society's intents and priorities and allocation of resources to those intents and priorities.
The Ministry of Education (2000), states that:

1. Policy is a Social discussion

2. We have Operational Policy also known as Policy Objectives that define the strategic plans of an organization. Example, the way our tertiary institutions should be operating.

Mankoe (2006) summarizes a Policy as a plan, course or principle of action adopted or proposed by a government, organization, business, party or individuals; an administrative action.

From the opinions of the experts being summarized here, it can be seen that there is the urgent need to revisit and redirect the Educational Policy discourse of Ghana to benefit the Ghanaian child to be fully functional and prepared for the future.