A rejoinder to Paul Adom Otchere's defense of KNUST
In a video circulating on social media, Mr. Paul Adom Otchere, the host Metro TV's Good Evening Ghana is seen-- in an "editorial" fashion before airing an episode of his program-- reacting to the righteous public indignation against the refusal of the admission committee of KNUST to grant Mr. Pius Kyere, the 2016 overall best WASSCE candidate his first choice program of medicine. In the video, he makes a trenchant argument to justify the selection procedure adopted by the university to select students who wish to study medicine at the country's finest science and technology university.
He contends that the university should have been a little more considerate in master Kyere's case owing to the fact that the gentleman schooled in one of the non-upper class schools in the country. Perhaps, Mr. Otchere is yet to come to terms with the reality that the notion of the existence of elite senior schools is nothing more than a factoid in the context of Ghana's contemporary educational system. The perceived elite senior high schools, Mr. Otchere sought to make reference to are indeed merely thriving on the vestige of their past glories.
Our educational system has witnessed tremendous dynamism over the last decade. Recent stories about these upper class schools has been freighted with grotesque imageries which hark back to the era of slave trade. The list of these so-called elite senior high schools in Ghana reads like a who is who of troubled student accommodation with slipping academic performances of students. It is not uncommon to come across stories decrying the over populous nature of the students' places of abode and crammed classrooms. (Maybe signs of elitism).
Paul may be right with his argument for universities to adopt rigorous admission and selection procedures for certain highly sought-after programs like medicine, law, pharmacy etc. However, any selection process--like the one used to deny Pius, the overall best WASSCE candidate in West Africa in 2016--which relies on subjectivity and impulses of individuals with no attribute of reproducibility will always be self-defeating and with a propensity to tilt the scale of fairness against the less privileged of the society. The proclivity of the Ghanaian to indulge in nepotism will certainly require that such selection procedures be as objective as they should be, barely influenced by human tendencies. Otherwise, people like Pius who may not well be connected in the society will always be disadvantaged.
Paul also makes another compelling argument for our universities to produce less of "academic thinkers" but more of problem solvers. To be honest, I am not too clear with the import of his term "academic thinkers." However, eliciting from the context of his argument, he was probably making a case for our universities and teaching institutions to whittle down on the production of students who only excel in academics at the expense of other feats. Regardless, Paul needs to realize that some people have the innate ability to excel in academics, just like others who extraordinarily perform in other fields of endeavors like singing, playing soccer etc. It therefore comes as a surprise that an interviewer who happened to be a stalwart of Manchester United failed Pius during an interview process to select potential future doctors and deny him his dream of becoming a surgeon on the premise that the gentleman did not know a whiff about the coach of the interviewer's favorite soccer team, and to a larger extend the entire discipline of soccer.
This country has never been in dire need of "academic thinkers" with a deeper commitment to their aspirations than in these times where the few privileged in the society go all lengths to push their academically weak children and family members into medical schools, fill job vacancies through dynastic linkages. Maybe Paul needs to check the background of the medical students who finally made to that batch of medical student intake Pius wished to have joined.
Following public opprobrium of KNUST's mistreatment of the gentleman, one thing about him has emerged and it seems striking. To pin down, Pius demonstrated an exceptional emotional strength and beamed with an infectious flame of hope in a video interview where he narrated his misfortune. His unwavering resolve and strong spirit to claw his way out of this tragedy signals of a young man who is not only academically gifted but also appreciates the deeper intricacies of the course of life.
Mr. Paul Adom Otchere makes a compelling argument in defense of KNUST's unfair treatment of Pius Kyere, a former student of St. James Seminary and Secondary School who was adjudged the overall best WASSCE candidate in Ghana and West Africa. Nonetheless, the university admission committee must with urgency depersonalize its admission procedures leading to the selection students into its medical school in order to ensure a level playing field to the privileged "dada mma" and the less connected "agya mma."
(The writer is a pharmacist and a product KNUST and St. James Seminary and Secondary School)