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Opinions of Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Columnist: Paul Kwabena Wadie

When mendacity and hypocrisy drive policy: Another hollow attempt to right the wrongs of our disastrous educational system

I believe that Dr Mathew Opoku Prempeh, the Minister of Education, went to school in Ghana, at least primary school. I also believe that at that time there was very little to choose from an urban and a rural school. Not to think of a private school.

I also believe that none of Dr Opoku Prempeh's grandchildren is attending a public school in Ghana . His own children might have been fortunate to attend the numerous State Schools in Kumasi at the time that those schools were very good; that is, if they did not school abroad.

So, Dr Opoku Prempeh, a physician turned politician, is now the Minister of Education and is touted as the most performing among his peers. His achievement is rested on the introduction of the government flagship program of free SHS. A policy that is as bold as it's inherent pitfalls. Let's agree to credit him with the policy in exchange for his readiness to embrace his crucifixion should the policy fail as they seem to be tottering towards a ditch.

Now, Dr Opoku Prempeh is bent on introducing an examination regime for all teachers in the primary and secondary levels of our education system. And of course, at teachers expense. I wonder what he aims to achieve. Is he going to sack those teachers who might fail his examination? If not, then why do you dare attract an opprobrium for a useless exercise? And could anybody in this country vouch for the integrity of this examination?

As a physician, I believe that Dr Opoku Prempeh did a diagnosis of Ghana's education system before embarking on this rather quixotic exercise. That, of all the ills of our education system, the only one that needs urgent and special attention is teachers?

It is true that you need qualified teachers to produce good pupils. But to ignore your own shortfall as a Minister and as a government in providing the equipment needed for effective teaching and learning and blaming it on others is not only hypocritical but despicable.

Whilst busily attending to his free SHS baby, he has conveniently forgotten and ignored the problems at the basic level of our education system. And to continue in his folly of shifting blame, a short-lived exercise, he has decided to take on an already despised group in society, the teachers, hoping to buy time.

If he cares to know, the school in my holly village doesn't have chalk, exercise books, reading books, pens and pencils- the most basic of educational materials. His teachers do what is known as 3/5 i.e. attending school 3 days out of the mandatory 5 days. His circuit supervisor goes to schools with the sole aim of taking bribe from the poor village teacher.

My teacher friends should know that this piece is not intended to hold brief for them. Some of you are danm incompetent. But then, how did they become teachers? Did they not go through a rigorous training regime before being certified as teachers?

Matthew Opoku Prempeh should know that he is a politician. And that if we were to apply the same mechanism he is fanatically aiming at teachers at his own colleagues in government, many of them would come out attumbling. There is something called political own goals. He should be careful not to score one for his team.