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Improving the quality of our education

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Thu, 1 Feb 2018 Source: Dr. Samuel Adjei Sarfo

The beginnings of education in this country had nothing to do with imbuing any patriotic spirit in the educands; or inculcating the creative spirit and innovative skills in the citizens. The original purpose of our education, when it was established in the Cape Coast and Elmina slave castles, was to educate selected citizens to become clerks (krakye) in order to help the colonial master to dupe and exploit the country with more aplomb and efficiency. The scholar’s interest was therefore originally aligned to the foreigner’s interest which was patently adverse to the people’s interest.

Well after the colonialists were done with producing these clerks, the missionaries took over the education of the citizens and saw the opportunity to use the school system to brainwash the educands for the purpose of propagating their peculiar faith and theology, instead of training them in commonsense, creativity, innovation, logic and reasoning.

Then finally, well after our independence, the purpose of our education, as construed by the then government, was to indoctrinate the citizens to regard their leaders as some sort of voodoo deities and tin gods. Thus, the educated Ghanaian was, in one instance, simply a colonial appendage, and in another instance a religious zealot, or in the latter-day instance, a partisan minion created to imbibe ready-made ideology and to regurgitate same for the full benefit of the politician.

And within our convenient cultural and traditional milieu in which no questions were asked or encouraged to be asked, the people were primed enough to have their minds obnubilated or distorted through this deleterious education system.

Like the colonially educated, the modern Ghanaian scholar is just an extension of the residual greed within the civil service, viewing his position in government or public service more as a means to enrich himself and his family, and never to serve the people. To that person, government is an alien contraption formed for the sole benefit of exploiting or duping the country; and in this context, he is just an efficient appendage of that parasitic system originated by the colonial masters.

As to those educated within the missionary schools, some were to wear the garments and habits of the faith and openly defend it with their lives; and the rest were atavistically invested with loyalty to the church/mosque, to the total occlusion of any independent thinking, logical reasoning or intellectual curiosity.

If you visit Elmina Castle, you will capture the essence of the foregoing: The church sits right above the slave dungeons, and no better irony or metaphor captures more the hypocrisy of those slave-masters engaged in their evil trade while preaching mercy and propagating love! And up to today, those trained in the missionary schools never question the irony and contradictions within their faith because they do not have the capacity to do so. And they do not put any premium on critical thinking and logical reasoning because they are anathema to their faith and religion.

Our cultural practices and traditional orientation also oiled the wheels of our mis/education, insofar as this culture was/is essentially steeped in superstition and unquestioning acceptance of authority figures. In the context of this culture, we, as a people, are encouraged to believe in the things that our ancestors did, to accept the lies that are told us that these ancestors, together with the rivers, the forests, the mountains and the rocks are deities for which we must periodically mollify with libation and celebrate with festivals. After all, we have a whole chieftaincy institution established to ensure that we are ossified in the ignorant past, and that our adherence to superstition and traditional bunkum signals our patriotic spirit and our good citizenship.

Thus, within our educational system, we will find established strict curricular to support and advance the trifecta harms of exploitation, indoctrination and hero worshipping. Need we then be surprised that we have, through this educational system, created citizen parasites whose stock in trade is to exploit the country for themselves and their families?

Need we ask why our educated folks toe the missionary lines of unquestionable religious faith and belief? Need we then be surprised that those who come out of our educational system are mere praise singers and hero-worshippers groveling before their political gods and demigods? And need we question the rush with which these so-called scholars hurry to assume chieftaincy titles in order to keep the archaic cultural wheels rolling?

Let me repeat here what I have stated elsewhere that we have trained science scholars who cannot think scientifically, medical doctors who have no original treatments for our peculiar ailments, music scholars who have never composed any music, and English teachers who cannot write in good English. All these are the results of the education which originated as a method of exploitation, as a tool of our intellectual obnubilation, and as a means of making as political minions, sycophants and idiots.

And under this government which no doubt has good intentions enough to provide the citizens with free high school education, nothing has been said or thought in terms of new curricular to reverse the harm that is being done to the citizens through false education. The nation has not sat down to analyze and contemplate what it wants to achieve by dint of its free education; what type of character it wants to imbue in its citizens and what it expects them to do as the outcome of their education.

We must begin from the very beginning: If we know how our education originated and evolved, and how it has been used to advance foreign, religious and political interests, we will apply the great lessons of history to make it better. We will succeed in making patriotism and nation-building the center-piece of our education. We will make critical thinking and logical reasoning the core of the citizens’ intellectual ware. We will give the people the tools that will make them balanced in their perception of politics and politicians; and we will not persist in subjugating their faculties under cultural bunkum to make them remain the same backward people a thousand years from hence.

Columnist: Dr. Samuel Adjei Sarfo