Dr. Sam Jonah makes my day... and shames the doomsday politicians

Tue, 16 Feb 2016 Source: Bokor, Michael J. K.

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Monday, February 15, 2016

Folks, it is true that "times are rough" throughout the world as governments find it difficult to provide the "heaven-on-earth" that the citizens need to live their lives in decency and comfort. Nowhere cool in the world!!

Within this context, it is difficult to side with Ghanaian politicians who are constantly rabble-rousing to create disaffection for the government of the day as if when given the chance they can do anything better. In this Fourth Republic, particularly, evidence outweighs any wishful thinking and narrow-minded partisan politics being done on the basis of "Whie wo asetena mo na tu aba pa" (the NPP's catch phrase). What has characterized the electioneering campaign for Election 2016 is taking on a bizarre quality on that score to be pooh-poohed.

We note that the overall living situation in Ghana under Rawlings wasn't the best for the populace as it wasn't under Kufuor too, even though his NPP had won political power at the 2000 Presidential run-off on the basis of its bitter criticisms against the Rawlings administration and won the support of the minority political parties to uplift Kufuor.

To his credit, though, Kufuor initiated measures aimed at solving pertinent problems but which couldn't be sustained when attention shifted to the very development projects that he had led the NPP gang to condemn Rawlings over. The obvious inadequacies of his administration and many other factors gave the NDC the chance to rebound to power under the late Atta Mills whose "Better Ghana Agenda" took off in a whirlwind fashion and had more focus on development projects than policies and programmes to alleviate the immediate existential burden (job creation and remuneration) facing the people. (Of course, job creation should be the preserve of the private sector, supported by the government).

President Mahama has sustained the agenda of development projects and incurred the anger of those who think that there is more to life than development projects can provide. Many have either lost their jobs or become despondent, creating room for the wily and vile politicians to manipulate them for selfish ends.

The corps of Ghanaian youth are particularly hurt. We know of the concerns of the graduates from the tertiary institutions who can't land jobs. Their concerns aren't without foundation: the job market (especially in the public sector) isn't expanding to absorb them, which calls for innovative measures toward the private sector. But who is doing what?

The NPP under Akufo-Addo has been instrumental in the agenda of negative politics against President Mahama's administration on that score, creating the sordid impression that Ghana is doomed if the incumbent's mandate is renewed at Election 2016. They are hell-bent on condemning, calumniating, and jeopardizing anything and everything coming from President Mahama without providing any alternative to Ghanaians on how they will do things differently to solve the very problems that they are highlighting in their electioneering humbug.

Interestingly, Akufo-Addo is asking Ghanaians (especially those in the Western Region that he is currently interacting with) to pray for the hardships to be eliminated. To him, prayers are the solution. What a dunce?

Out of the blues, something new has cropped up to ponder: "The Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast, Dr. Sir Sam Esson Jonah, has called on Ghanaian graduates to sharpen their minds and employ out-of-box thinking to provide jobs for themselves and others.

According to the business magnate, it is a well-known fact that the unemployed graduate phenomenon has become part of the country’s social fabric and the earlier graduates changed their thought about employment in the government sector, the better it will be for themselves and the country.

He was speaking at the 5th session of the 48th Congregation of the University of Cape Coast. Dr. Sam Jonah called on the graduates to gird their loins in the difficult times the country finds itself as government struggles with the available resources to meet the unlimited needs of the populace. (See more at: http://www.myjoyonline.com/news/2016/February-15th/times-are-hard-but-never-give-up-sam-jonah-tells-ucc-graduates.php#sthash.gr3g4tSt.dpuf ).

That is the new direction to take the debate on graduate unemployment in Ghana. The times are difficult, especially in terms of the public sector, but it doesn't mean the end of the road for Ghanaian students pursuing diverse programmes in higher education. There are many opportunities to explore instead of sitting down, arms between thighs, waiting for someone from just anywhere to redeem.

In many countries, self-initiative does it all. What we in Ghana have to know is that higher education doesn't necessarily pave the way for jobs, which is what those graduates crying about unemployment and blaming the government (thereby exposing themselves to manipulation by politicians seeking their sentiments for their own selfish purposes) should be wary of.

The government has the responsibility to create a congenial environment, but it shouldn't overburden itself with placing every graduate in a job. That is not done anywhere in the world. Those who have the requisite qualification should look for job placements as such. Unfortunately, in Ghana, it hasn't been so, which is why nurses, teachers, etc. freshly churned out from the training institutions automatically expect to be placed and take to the streets if their expectations are not met. But it shouldn’t be so.

Folks, the truth is that the salvation of the Ghanaian graduate lies in his or her own hands. No one should expect to be automatically absorbed into the job market just because he/she has attained higher education (even when such an education is suspect when it comes to reality in terms of its relevance to efforts at solving existential problems).

As my own experiences tell me, looking for a job after graduation from an institution of higher education is the preserve of the beneficiary. Even though some companies may have recruitment teams in place to spot and recruit qualified graduates, it is not guaranteed that one should be placed after graduation.

When I (a celebrated non-native speaker of English trained in rhetoric and composition/technical and professional communication) was graduating from the Ph.D. program in the United States, no institution had any automatic spot for me to fill. I had to apply for such a spot all over the country to compete with hundreds of other applicants (mostly native speakers of English). Only my credentials and ability to persuade the recruiters assured me of a position, which I have occupied for over 7 years now. All Ghanaians working outside the country can testify to this regimen.

You can imagine the fate of those who lost the bid. They didn't have to blame the US government led by Barack Obama but to find ways of fitting into the society to use their assets of higher education to solve problems. After all, what is the value of education if one cannot fit into the society after being educated?

We in Ghana seem too comfortable with the bar that has been lowered all these years, which is why just any graduate at all thinks that his/her problem of joblessness should be blamed on the government,. and for which they join hands with unscrupulous politicians to misbehave all over the country.

Dr. Jonah has opened the channel for thorough conversation, which must be used so we can redefine our purposes as far as higher education and the job market are concerned in Ghana. His message has no room for narrow politics.

I shall return…

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Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.