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A Purpose-Driven Educational System, Must-Have For Ghana

Sat, 31 Jul 2010 Source: Arthur, Patrick Kobina

All those in favour of purpose-driven education, its time to please step

up!!

I deem it necessary to step up to project the rather urgent need for a

change of attitude towards education in this country. Many people educated

in Ghana over the past half century have left Ghana to acquired additional

knowledge and expertise becoming giants in their fields of endeavour the

world over. Good example are Kofi Annan of the UN,

Dr. Peter Atadja of Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Dr. Ave Kludze of NASA and the

list goes on.These clearly answer the question on whether people of Ghanaian

origin and Africans for that matter are intellectually capable. Alot more

evidence continue to accumulate that totally disperse any contention that

Ghana and Africa own its current state of underdevelopment to lack of

creative thinking abilities.

*Purpose of education:*

The value of education to a human being resides in two important points,

firstly the transformation of the human mind from crude to structured or a

refined form and secondly the acquisition of the capability to transform

ones surroundings into a form that increases quality of life. It is in the

second point lies a clear demonstration of concept of purpose driven

education. The key question that anybody in the educational sector need to

always ask is "for what purpose is this quest for knowledge and

understanding? A quote from the Bible will explain what the purpose should

be for any society seeking enlightenment and training for its people. When

the time came for God to instruct the people of Israel to build the tent of

meeting and ark of the covenant, God said to Moses in Exodus 31:3 -"and I

have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in

all kinds of crafts". And in verse 6 of the same chapter it says "Also I

have given skill to all the craftsmen to make everything I have commanded

you". In this situation God choose to build the capacity of the workmen

involved in the project of constructing the tent of meeting and the ark of

the testimony by filling them with His Spirit. Society today builds the

capacity of its people through education and training for the many different

project necessary to build the structures and create the substance our lives

depend on.

Therefore, the delivery of educational services must be bench marked not by

the grades awarded but rather the various project targets in specialised

fields. Case in point is the training of automobile engineers in this

country. The fact that courses in automobile engineering is offered in the

Polytechnics and KNUST should reflect on the performance and longevity of

our cars. Any one who owns a car can concur with me, without subjecting this

issue to scientific polling and statistical analysis, that the current

situation strongly suggest that the level and scope of training in

automobile engineering is far lower that what is needed. I recently watch an

interview of a businessman whose cold store in Tema broke down so frequently

that he had to hire expertise from Holland at a great cost for revamping

equipment and training his personnel to better maintain their set up. What

he said clearly was that the Dutch expert had to be engaged again because

his person still could not manage the plant. This speaks volumes about

electrical engineering training in this country.

*Way forward:*

I was glad to note recently that KNUST was collaborating with GRATIS

Foundation for the practical assessment of students in the engineering

disciplines. This is one excellent way forward for rescuing the current

standards of education. Industry and end-users of educational products must

be involved in the evaluation of training programmes, with little emphasis

on grading of examinations but rather more on creative works. Those in the

visual and the performing arts will know exactly what I am talking about

because it is easier for these disciplines to escape the flaws of

paper-based examinations. And I will strongly advocate the use of creativity

as the basis of assessment

by teams of assessors to be made to form a larger proportions of the

educational grading systems.

*Stratification of Education at All Levels:*

The growth of any plant is well known to be dependent first on its root

system and therefore the way to fix the system of education to correctly

deal with the needs of society is to ensure that everybody is given a good

chance to express and develop the gift of God within them. The greatest

disincentive to any teacher is to be asked to handle a class of students

with vastly different intellectual abilities. In a typical class, the most

endowed students grasps what is being taught very quickly and are able to

ask the right questions, this is sharply contrasted by a group who require

several hours of teaching and will still fail. The danger is that the scope

of training is narrowed and endowed students are progressively retarded

whilst less endowed one are frustrated by the higher standard of assessment.

The way forward is the use of stratification of the student population at

all levels in addition to specialization based on the natural talent of a

people. I am of a strong conviction that a system that work well in Germany

and other developed countries could be adopted and adapted to rescue our

schools. The lower primary 1-3 could have all the kids together, upper

primary 4-6 could be separated into a 2-tier system and a 3 tier system for

JHS, SHS and the tertiary levels.

I fervently hope a major reorientation of the educational system will be

done soon begin the process of turning

the wheel of progress. Education is considered to be a fundamental human

right, but I favour the concept of education as therapy. Therapy is designed

to correct a misnomer, it is rare to find raw creative talent in the mould

of Bill Gates and Isaac Newton. The vast majority of people absolutely need

training to be become productive members of society,

implying that the "all manner of skills" needed for the national development

can only be obtained through training and education.

God bless our homeland.

--------------------------------------------

Patrick Kobina Arthur (PhD),

parthur14@gmail.com

Columnist: Arthur, Patrick Kobina