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Opinions of Saturday, 16 December 2017

Columnist: Mercy Asamani

The ‘push them through anyway’ attitude is lowering our educational standards

Education is a necessity of life and an essential tool to grow a country and the world at large which is why SDG 4 seeks inclusive and equitable education and life long learning opportunities for all.

Most at times, we focus only on formal education and leave out the rest but they altogether make up education - which is why I always say that there's no word like "uneducated". You can't call one "uneducated" all because they didn't receive formal education because education comprises a lot aside formal. You can only call one an illiterate in a particular field or aspect and never uneducated.

A nation who seeks growth and development must adore and protect education especially formal education. I was elated when I heard the Free SHS had been implemented because it clearly showed that our nation adores education- the only inheritance that can't be taken away. But can we succeed in this field by only focusing on the laid down theories and systems without ensuring that it works well? I've been contemplating on how *"the push them through anyway"* attitude is destroying our educational system and lowering our standards and decided to pen down my opinion.

As a student teacher who just finished my off campus teaching practice- I came to see the reality on the ground aside all I've heard. Growing up, there was competition everywhere even amongst friends. I remember I used to quarrel sometimes with friends over who had better and bet on who will get better the next time. We had little time to engage in "telenovela discussions " and "unnecessary things" because we knew we had to hit the mark or get repeated. No matter who your parents were or where you were from, you would be repeated if you fell below the pass mark. On the other hand, you will be promoted if you excelled.

This was a huge challenge thrown at us and so everyone was busy either trying to excel to get promoted or retained or fighting above the pass mark so they don't get repeated but what do we see now? Most Parents threaten Head teachers and whoever owns the school at P. T. A meetings to withdraw their wards if the school repeated them for failing consistently. Most Head teachers and school owners are afraid of losing students which implies they losing lots of money so *"they push them through anyway"*. No wonder, you will find an SHS 3 student who has no idea what a clause is or a University Student still struggling to construct sentences.

Parents force their wards to choose courses they are not comfortable with all because they want to *"Push them through anyway "* and satisfy the society. I grew up with one gentleman whose father was a top government official. The gentleman wasn't good academically; he could draw a football pitch and place players on the field in an attempt to answer a Venn diagram question involving players, but this guy was a very good footballer and he always complained about the countless times he had told his father to take him to the Academy instead but proved futile. His father was worried about what his colleagues who had their wards reading law and medicine and other courses will say about his ward dropping out of school to a football academy.

He cared more about others will say than what will become of his child. Did his teacher at that time perform his counselling role? I doubt he did because the only counselling I remember him receiving were lashes of canes anytime he failed. Was that the best to do? It is the responsibility of the teacher to perform counselling and advisory roles and in this situation, the best the teacher could have done was to talk to the student and encourage him and move a step further to speak to the parent. Yea, some do but looking around, the more square pegs in round holes shows a lot more aren't performing their duties.

They *"Push Them Through Anyway"* because they don't want to invite the wrath of the parents or lose the little pennies the parents have been offering them. We shitter dreams at the expense of our bellies. Today, this friend of mine has become frustrated- he finally gave in to his dad and has started his University education( he had no other choice because he's grown so fat that he doesn't even have the stamina to play again). Have you wondered where this will get to?

Most head teachers in an attempt to win more students to their schools connive with parents to pay huge sums of money for their final year wards so that the school can buy "apor" for their wards to pass. It's not surprising that in these moments, the parents of wards who either aren't comfortable being in school and wish they were elsewhere and so aren't doing well or those who should have been repeated to get what they couldn't get better are the very ones who rush to pay just to prevent them from feeling bad for taking bad decisions and then most of these end up in the University and either get sacked for failing or end up getting frustrated because they aren't comfortable with where they are.

If we all come together to do our best, our educational system will be at its best. Being repeated doesn't make you a failure, it only gives you the chance to make things better than before. It is also best that we support our wards in their dreams and aspirations. If it's a technical or vocational school they want to attend, please don't deny them the opportunity to live their dreams. If it is a football academy or whatever, let's support them because education doesn't come only by sitting on desks and in classrooms. Afterall, we get educated to be better not get frustrated so allow them be happy in whatever field they choose.

I also believe that instead of Universities rather choosing courses for students based on their criteria which is a major contributing factor to square pegs ending up in round holes, we must admit students to courses based on their abilities. The fact that someone excels in Integrated Science and Maths doesn't mean the University should compulsory give them a science course even if they choose another. Even if they would have to write entrance exams in whatever course they want, I think it's best than forcing courses on them.

Let's all come together and stop the *"push them through anyway"* attitude so as to raise our educational standards and make Ghana great!

©Mercy Asamani

Mercedes Rowe Asamani