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Opinions of Tuesday, 22 March 2005

Columnist: Akosah-Sarpong, Kofi

The Trouble With Legon And Our Elites

Kofi Akosah-Sarpong explores why the leakages of University exam papers has implications for Ghana?s future development

The scandal rocking the premier University of Ghana at Legon reflects the rot in not only among the country?s elites but also the future of the country. Before this a lot of irritating odour had add up to all these moral rot spewing out from the leading and oldest university. Dr Nii Josiah-Aryeh, a law lecturer at Legon, as the University is fondly called, had been fired from his post as secretary general of the main opposition political party, the National Democratic Party (NDC), after an internal investigations confirmed press reports that he had secretly taken a bribe of about US$3,000 from the ruling National Patriotic Party (NPP) and pass on some weaknesses of the NDC to the NPP. Dr Nii Josiah-Aryeh?s disgracefully corrupt conduct, which has shame him and cut him from public domain, as Legon is experiencing now, is symptomatic of the examination papers and grades buying and selling report ordered by the university dated March 3, 2005 that indicate, among others rots, that it is ?not only students involvement in examination malpractices, but also the connivance of principal officers of the university, including heads of departments in fixing results,? as quoted by the Accra-based Daily Guide from a Mfodwo Committee of Enquiry investigating the bizarre rot at the university.

Added to the above, it is an open secret that some graduates of Legon seeking admissions to universities abroad who receive unpalatable letters of recommendations from their heads of departments, more because of their grades and conduct, buy the university?s letterheads from secretarial workers, write a more pleasant letters of recommendations for themselves by themselves, sign the signatures of the heads of the departments and post them to the universities abroad as if they are from the University of Ghana. Legon?s rot reflects the process of one of Ghana?s key intellectual development centers sliding down the moral and intellectual abyss in the development path in the global development game, where in the final analysis, the higher the trained mind, as we seeing in the emerging India as a force in the global information system development, the better and sustainable the national development. How do you compare intellectual development? Sometimes out of ones sphere when one compares with other minds from other places in terms of development. Some people have observed recently that some graduates coming from Ghana?s top universities appear weak intellectually; gullible, overly irrational, disturbingly superstitious, and have low knowledge base when one engages them in discussions on simple development issues.

This raises questions about the future of Ghana as the country increasingly enters the global system of development where solid knowledge and highly trained minds will be needed in the sharp global competitive environment of development. As a Third World or developing country, Ghana cannot take light not only its falling education standards but also the fact that its top university is morally, spiritually, and intellectually rotten, more so with the decay emitting from the Vice Chancellor of Legon?s family. Added to Legon?s troubles, as one of the key frontline elite institutions in the country, the revelation that a lot of media houses do not pay taxes also raises questions about their civic responsibilities, sense of nation building, and moral rectitude, and nationalism. In other parts of the most would have been in jail by now.

Earlier African elites, as Nigeria?s Toyin Falola argues in ?Nationalism and African Intellectuals,? who were able to skillfully link nationalism with knowledge, struggled to liberate Ghana/Africa from colonial rule. Elites like Dr. Kofi Busia, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Dr. J.B. Danquah (who named Ghana ?Ghana?), Ebenezer Ako Adjei, Joe Aggrey, and Paa Grant were able to do what they did for Ghana by having deep moral force, spiritual balance, deep intellect and sound knowledge which saw them drive through daunting challenges posed not only by the colonialists and other wrong-headed indigenous forces but also laid the foundation for Ghana to take off. It appears now the moral and intellectual foundations are crumbling: today? products of university?s appear morally weak, stupid, juvenile, ?backward,? ?primitive? and less civil, key sponsors of irrational juju-marabou mediums, supportive of bad governments and military juntas, corrupt and criminally-minded, self-destruct, and at the mercy of external forces. Added to these troubles is the fact that today?s university products lack thorough understanding of the Ghanaian environment, hence Ghanaian (or African) values not reflected in the country?s development paradigms, as other ex-colonies in Latin America and Southeast Asia have done successfully, but rather the colonial ones. The problems you see today in Ghana largely emanates from the minds of her elites, no more, no less.

The Legon rot demonstrates the confusion in Ghana?s education system, an education system not rooted in Ghana?s values first, not coming from within the Ghanaian soul first, and the colonialist imposed ones second. For this reason, as the Ghanaian executive director of the Addis Ababa-based UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Dr. Y.K. Amoako, observes, the Ghana/Africa region is the only area in the world where foreign development values or paradigms dominate its development programs. This sometimes make us look weak in development game, constantly shifting from one un-Ghanaian paradigms to another mixed with inexperiences. While first President Kwame Nkrumah and his group adopted pure Marxism/Lennism (as if Ghanaians are Europeans), Prime Minister Kofi Busia and group went for pure Western capitalism (as if Ghanaians are Europeans), and the various military juntas that visited Ghana run around, like a headless chicken, confusingly with a mixture of both. The sum of all these are partly responsibly for our problems and have not help us refined the inhibiting aspects of our culture that continue to weaken our collective development. As any juju-marabou medium or any of the booming spiritualists would tell you, most of those who patronize them for high level negative and irrational rituals are the elites ? read newspapers reports across Ghana and pick those engaged in such practices.

In some intellectual and moral ?Sankofa? way, the challenges facing Ghanaian elites, as reflected in the Legon intellectual and moral crisis, in the face of both some students and some lecturers engaged in examination papers and marks sales, is how to retrace our intellectual past where civic and moral virtues balances Ghana?s intellectual development and use it to develop the country?s future in the face of global challenges.



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