Ghana Needs a National Policy on Education Devoid of Politics

Mon, 2 Nov 2015 Source: Eyiah, Joseph Kingsley

By Joe Kingsley Eyiah, OCT, Brookview, Middle School, Toronto-Canada

What is really happening to the education system in our beloved land-Ghana? Are there no professionals in that sector who can call the system to order? Can’t the top educational professionals put aside their political party biasness and for once develop a national policy on education in the supreme interest of the country? Or are they been ‘hijacked’ by the politicians in power?

I have been prompted to ask the above questions by a recent assertion by the Head of Department of Computing and Information Technology of the Wisconsin International University College, Ghana, Dr Nana Kofi Annan that high level of unemployment in the country can be attributed to Ghana’s educational system. Dr Annan who was speaking at the 13th matriculation ceremony of the university held in Accra this year, stressed the fact that Africans could not compete with their counterparts in the world if they continued to teach with old- fashioned tools and materials while their counterparts used modern and sophisticated tools. I couldn’t but agree with him the more! I would also add that our educational system has become the toast of different political ideologies from time to time with the two main political parties (NDC and NPP) in the country using school children as guinea pigs! If we want our country to develop we MUST develop a national policy on education devoid of political parties’ selfish interest and manipulation.

Obviously, education is the biggest enterprise in any civilized society. Granted the fact that education is one of the most important tool for national development it becomes the responsibility of any progressive government anywhere to provide and promote sound educational policies as well as infrastructure that will help its people to acquire knowledge, skills and attitudes that enable them to develop their potentials. The founding President of Ghana, Dr. Nkrumah understood this very well. He therefore expanded the opportunities for all Ghanaians to have some education. There was the mass education for adult Ghanaians who were above school-going age. More importantly, the formal sector of education in Ghana then saw rapid development under President Nkrumah.

Since independence, we have had Dr Kwame Nkrumah’s Accelerated Development Plan of Education, which sought to expand rapidly recruitment into basic and secondary schools; the Prof. Alex Kwapong Education Review Committee, which brought about continuation schools in 1966, the Professor Dzobo Review Committee of 1974, which introduced the comprehensive junior secondary school (JSS) concept, and reform which began in 1987 as well as Kufour’s 2007 reform (the latest major changes in education) which sought to expose children to literacy and numeracy, from the kindergarten level. The country has had to struggle with the duration of senior high school (SHS) education from 3 years (NDC) to 4 years (NPP) and back to 3 years (NDC).

It would not be far-fetched to surmise that education in Ghana today is apparently in crisis - from the JSS through the SHS to the tertiary institutions. There is so much uncertainty about and mismanagement of the educational policies put in place by the government. Ghanaians are now lured into voting for either President John Mahama or the NPP Presidential candidate, Nana Akuffo Addo with the bait of free secondary education during the forthcoming presidential elections in 2016.

I would like to stress here that we need to build a solid foundation for students in Ghana by investing in pre-school education and teacher education for effective pedagogy. Though things are not as expected, all is not lost yet. Precisely, it is in the light of this crisis that we must do something about and with our education. We have to put our heads and hands together to revamp education in Ghana as we are trying to do now for our electoral system.

Let all the stake-holders in education in Ghana and the technocrats in the field of education come together to develop viable and acceptable guidelines (blue prints) that should govern any educational reform in Ghana and save our educational system from the ‘political butcher’s knife’.

If the government of Ghana follows a national policy (not party policy) on education developed by a cross-section of our experts in education we would be doing our nation a great service!

Columnist: Eyiah, Joseph Kingsley