You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2007 06 06Article 125018

Opinions of Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Columnist: Adu-Gyamfi, Kwaku

Thinking Outside The Box

THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX: WHOSE RESPONSIBILITY IS IT?

The rain is gone so we should be able to see clearly now!

A friend of mine once said, ‘’ Progress is impossible without change and change is not possible without the ability to see ahead of one’s time”

YOU DO NOT have to be a pilot to understand and appreciate the power of Navigational System. These days most new cars are equipped with Navigational System—to save us time on a trip because it helps us to avoid needless delays by simply telling us where we are in relation to where we are going. This device is capable of showing you the best route to take. So why are we driving with our navigational system completely turned off? As a nation, do we know where we’re going?

Most people wouldn’t run a race or drive if they don’t know the definite stopping point. So why would our leaders take the citizens and the nation through a fog without a clue about where they are going? The clarity of their vision makes a big difference, in our part of the world. For Ghana to make any meaningful socio-economic progress, we need forward-thinking, forward-looking and innovative-thinking people. The adage says, if you can see the invisible you can see the impossible”, because you can’t achieve what you can’t conceive.

These are extraordinary times. We have more opportunities, more possibilities and more freedom today to progress as a nation than at any other time in the history of Ghana. The emergences of Information Communication Technology and other scientific advancement have sped up the process of Globalization. Regrettably, our leaders’ vision and perception have been blocked, impaired or blurred, to see all the opportunities. The apprehension is that, how long does the nation have to wait to get into the socio-economic ‘Promised Land’? How far can we see from here? And whose job is it?

We’re literally in darkness because of our rainfall- dependency - electric energy policies. Yet we’re busy embarking on another dam as a measure to solve our electricity problem. The drought will come again and we’ll repeat the electricity ration as we do every year. So how far can we see the future? Who is responsible for the quality of our lives?

To be able to see clearly, we have to think outside the box. After the World War11, the U.S government established a plan (Marshall Plan) to rebuild Europe. I am also proposing the establishment of Ghana Marshall Plan. The Plan will be developed by a National Summit made up of representatives from the political leadership, the community, schools and colleges, ministries, institutions, trade unions, Ghanaians in the Diaspora, the private sector and religious groups to find solutions to our socio-politico-economic problems and map out innovative solutions for this century and beyond .It will also hold the government responsible to meet its assigned goals and responsibilities. Every citizen will be asked to play a role to meet the set goals. we will all be required to make a little sacrifice, if we want to see a little bit afar.

The new educational system is taking off in September, with all the fanfare and hoopla. But, I wonder if we have any major changes. I hope the Kumasi Magazine was incorporated into the technical and vocational education equation---where the students can use as a lab to hone their skills. While we hope ethics, integrity and entrepreneurship are integral part of the educational curriculum. The philosophy of education will prepare the Ghanaian to be someone who will be functional in the emerging global challenges. The Ghanaian educated will be the type that react positively to his environment and ‘think big’. How far can we see from here?

Many experts estimate that over fifty percent of college graduates end up working in areas other than the one for which they have a degree .That means we end up completing a degree only to find that we do not like actually working in the area that we enjoyed studying. On that basis, why shouldn’t we make (internship) apprenticeship part of our educational system? We should have secondary and university students spend a year as apprentices, working in the area for which they want a degree or certificate in order to help them determine what they really want to do with their lives.

In one of my articles I mentioned the need to teach the Kwahus’ entrepreneurial-savvy model in our communities and towns. But now that we’re embarking on a new educational system I suggest a serious research should be conducted to study the business prowess of the Kwahus. Perhaps they hold the key to entrepreneurial skills that the rest of us do not have. , By the way, how come such a workable and practical business model has not been packaged into a text book for our students?

Speaking of acquiring skills, let’s teach our students life skills also. With the emergence of the internet-dating and the death of prearranged marriages, the Ghanaians will soon have their share of the alarming divorce rate, which is so prevalent in the western world. Whilst divorce is no longer stigmatized in our modern-day culture, their effect on the society (especially, the children) is dangerously alarming. .So anything to control divorce rate is beneficial to the nation and its quest to move forward.

‘Marriage’ being one of the social pillars which grease the wheels of life and the nation, should be the subject to study for the students in our new educational system. Don’t get me wrong, .I’m not advocating for a How-To- Marry manual. But who can seriously disagree with me that marriage is too important insitution to be left to the advice of friends and parents? There are too many issues to navigate through when it comes to marital issues. But little is done to prepare us for this unknown journey. We need to be trained in order to handle all the responsibilities that attach to marriage. Unfortunately, the only ‘education’ we have is after the wedding—when we spend the next years to try to figure out how to deal with our spouses. However, it shouldn’t be like that. We could have made the process more enjoyable and less atrocious and less painful, if we had some formal training ahead of time.

Virtually, every serious human endeavor requires some form of education—either through classroom work or apprenticeship programs. Yet something as big and demanding as marriage—which forms ninety percent of our happiness or misery – is treated like a hobby, which only needs casual attention and fewer skills. It’s not that the students will become the best future spouses and never worry about marital problems by taking the course .It’s simply that they would have the tools to control and manage marital crisis.

While we’re on it, let’s add personal money management and financial training to the twist. Our poor spending choices and the habits of investing in depreciable ‘goods’—like funerals and cell phones need to be addressed by our new educational system. Financial knowledge should be acquired from home, but most of us, our parents couldn’t teach us about the Principles of wealth building because they never had any money. So to be able to see the future, our future leaders (the youths) should know the nuts and bolts of wealth building and its maintenance.

We need to teach them, in our schools and colleges until we don’t see our youths spending their life savings on expensive cell phones, instead of books or computers... We have a great taste for white name brand sneakers so we can use them on dusty and muddy sidewalk. Why do we spend a fortune on cells phones with camera, whilst we only use them to receive and make calls? As a nation, we probably spend more money on cell phones than on books .What is wrong with that picture? Are we going to get on the ipod bandwagon? Very soon our classrooms will not only be saturated with cell phones but ipod, digital music players. No wonder, some of our secondary school students write as if they are sending a text message .I ‘m gets a headache! Why are we driving around in expensive cars on pothole –ridden roads? Why do we spend so much on funerals instead of Setting up an educational foundation in the honor of the deceased ?What about spending part of the money to pay for health insurance for the deceased’s children, who are left with no coverage? Lack of Wealth education at work, folks!

Another important area that needs overhaul is the foreign language requirement for our secondary school students. I remember, in my secondary school days, I was required to take five years of foreign language(French).But, does it really play any meaningful role in the new currency of economic survival of Ghana? How far can we really see?

It’s a well-known fact that China and India are going to be this century’s world’s capitals. They’re going to be the most important countries on earth. And the whole world is going to do a lot of businesses with these two nations. So when we get right down to it, shouldn’t the Ghanaian students begin to learn Chinese and Hindi (mandatory), as necessary condition for future trade and businesses? These countries are not only economic power houses, but they‘re developing nations—which have gone through all the economic hiccups we’re going through-- so we can learn a lot from their mistakes and accomplishments.

One may like to know how pragmatic are our educational principles in equipping the Ghanaian students to compete favorably with the rest of the world? In today’s turbulent marketplace, standing still is the same as moving backwards. Because today, we’re not only competing against our neighbors .but we’re competing against highly-educated, computer-savvy - economically hungry young professionals all over the world.

How far can we see on the medical front? It’s a fact that we don’t have enough doctors and financial resources to procure essential medicines for the sick... So our best bet is to practice PREVENTIVE MEDICINE. By that I I’m talking about the training of a middle level medical personnel, who will tour our churches, mosques and schools to preach preventive medicine. This medical unit sole responsibility will be to preach ways to prevent preventable diseases and take care of minor medical needs of our students. This medical unit can also teach our women how to self-exam their breasts for early detection of cancer. This approach will by far be cheaper than the conventional way of accessing medicine, which doesn’t meet the needs of the people.

To ensure that we have the right people who can see afar and be very accountable to the people ,I think it will be appropriate and wise to demand that each party’s presidential candidate introduces his/her cabinet team before the electorates are made to vote. The concept will give the voter an idea of what kind of government each political party is likely to form. It will also offer the electorate the opportunity to study the strengths and weakness of each political ideology far ahead of time. Folks, these people are going to make a lot of decisions that are likely to affect our lives for four years, isn’t it important to know ahead of time how far they can see the future?

There is also a need to get our young people—who are too busy texting and chatting on their cell phones---energized and involved in the political process and leadership training skills, so as to acculturate in them the sense of responsible citizenship and patriotism .While we’re doing that we should also give them a sense of hope for the future. This is an opportunity for the young ones to learn how to see a little bit ahead of their imaginations so that they can learn how to dream big...

How far can we see our future developments? It’s amazing how our chiefs and other traditional rulers are not required to take any rudimentary PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION training, Why do we expect them to make any economic progressive decisions for their towns and villages? I mean no disrespect, but isn’t that true that most of the towns and villages in Ghana are economically stagnant because those in charge have no clue of turning things around? How far can they see if a town’s only source of revenue is a funeral levy? I’d like to propose the establishment of Townships Reconstruction Development Bank (The ‘TOR ‘Bank); the shareholders will be the Ghanaian towns and villages. This bank will be formed by towns and villages in a given catchments area. The resources shall be generated by the citizens for the growth and development of that particular enclave... The purposes of such a bank are: 1. Advice the community leaderships and teach them how to generate revenues and find investments avenues.

2. It will help the community to map out development plans and set up a yearly budget.

3. Provide loans and finance community projects like schools, playing grounds, library and after school programs for the youths.

You think the Brain- Drain is robbing Ghana of its able –bodies? Think again. Are we able to see that the selective hands of ROAD - ACCIDENT is randomly claiming our human resources(the manpower) at an alarming rate ,everyday and yet no comprehensive solution has been evolved to stop this predator from preying on our sons and daughters? What a waste of Ghana’s potential! It’s a tragedy, anytime life is diminished by road accident—when they could have been fulfilling their potentials in making constructive contribution to the nation and mankind. There are many ‘causalities’ of road accident, other than the actual victims... The deceased’s families left behind, business ideas that never saw the light of the day, books which were never written, dreams which were never accomplished and a fragile nation which is being robbed of its scarce human capital. How many more do we have to lose to get our leaders’ undivided attention? As individuals how far can we see?

What could be the cause of our inability to see the future? I guess the little voice in us whispers”, the problem is too big and too bad to be fixed”. That is the skeptic mind, isn’t it? Sometimes, we can’t blame the IMF for our lack of vision and inability to look at our problems as if our lives do not depend on them. Success is often found on beaten path and unexpected places .When we’re able to see beyond our imaginations then, only then, we can begin to realize our potentials and dreams as a nation.

Thinking of our desire to succeed, reminds me of a story I read about a military commander who burnt his troops boats after making an assault from the sea. He did that to ensure that the troops had no choice but to win. I wonder how much can we accomplish as a nation if our leaders gave us no choice to retreat, With the determination and the desire to succeed, we can make success no matter how long it will take us or how expensive it will cost us to face up to these challenges. Failing is not an option. Ghana has been in a mediocre state for so many decades—thanks to the military regimes and self-seeking politicians .Ghana has the opportunity and the far outweighing advantage to make it in to next level. The country has enough of rough political experiences which have made every Ghanaian to resolve to say that never again would they allow any military adventurer to rule through coup de tats .With this resolution, Ghana has the comparative advantage to propel faster into the next level of development. But we have to work on our intuitive mind because our attitude is far more important than our circumstances. The good time is still ahead of us, so let’s get busy. The rain is gone, so I hope we can see the future clearly now! “Luck is when we see what others don’t see and pursue it with all our hearts and minds” Can you hear me now?

*The writer is a social commentator, Chairman of Asuom Youth Club (AYC), Founder of Adu-Gyamfi Youth Empowerment, Educational and Apprenticeship Program Foundation, in the Kwaebibirim district.

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.