Lee Ocran’s Cheap Political Gimmickry
By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
As usual, the news report was too vague and far short on details for any critical thinker and well-meaning citizen to make any significant sense of the same. It was, characteristically, pontifically captioned “Lee Ocran Directs Aggrieved Presec Teachers to Start Teaching,” and was sourced by Ghanaweb.com to Radioxyzonline.com and dated Sept. 27, 2012. I don’t know much about the latter media organization, though my occasional perusal of the postings on its website clearly points to its unabashedly pro-National Democratic Congress leaning. Not that I care a whit or give a hoot about the ideological proclivity of any media organization in a functionally democratic Ghana. If anything at all, I am far more interested in studiously facilitating the remarkable elevation of the caliber of Ghanaian journalism to a competently global status.
At any rate, the afore-referenced news item piqued my attention because I served as a Post-“A”-Level National Service Teacher of English, Literature, History and Commerce during the 1984-85 academic year, immediately prior to my departing the country for advanced studies here in the United States, as well as reuniting with my now-late parents from whom I had been separated for nearly a decade-and-half. During my year’s association with SENDO, as the Osu Presbyterian Secondary School was popularly called, Mr. Gboloo, a rather affable, mild-mannered and urbane and well-respected gentleman of the proverbial old school was the headmaster. I would later learn of his sad and tragic passing.
In brief, it was my fond and cherished memories of Mr. Gboloo that provoked a palpable sense of shock and disappointment in me, that the placid administrative climate and culture fostered by this rarest of gentlemen headmasters should so soon and so sharply have given way to the kind of unspecified tyranny that the news report intimated, which had prompted the teachers of SENDO, or Osu Presec, to embark on a “sit-down” strike. At the time of this writing (Oct. 5, 2012), the Minister of Education was reported to have directed the SENDO teachers back to work, with the widely publicized understanding that Mr. Lee Ocran would personally confer with the unnamed SENDO headmistress and expeditiously deliberate on the documented grievances which the Education Minister would by then have collected from the aggrieved party.
On the face of it, Mr. Ocran’s administrative tack – or approach – seems to be the most constructive way to go about the problem, under the circumstances, until an experienced and professional educator like yours truly recognizes the fact that a sprawling institutional apparatus such as the Ghana Education Service (GES) and the latter’s political overlord, the Ministry of Education (MOE) ought to be fully equipped with a grievance-/conflict-resolution directorate that is wholly devoted to an all-too-common and financially draining problem such as the one under discussion. Needless to say, Mr. Ocran could have readily directed any of his legion deputies to deal with the SENDO impasse, rather than going at it personally.
For instance, and this is not merely hypothetical: if ten schools were to be facing the same problem, how would Mr. Ocran have presumed to resolve each and every one of these problems simultaneously all by himself? Of course, the fact that this is a tense election year ought to give the lie to the minister’s seemingly hands-on approach to education administration. The fact of the matter is that the man needs to score cheap political points, both for himself and the ruling National Democratic Congress. I mean, don’t we have district and regional directors of education to deal with such purely local administrative impasse?
Then again, what are we to make of an Education Minister who seems to be more interested in the reckless, propagandistic distribution of school buses than the more cognitively tasking job of curriculum development and the universal access of avenues of intellectual, professional and cultural development of our youths?
*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is Director of The Sintim-Aboagye Center for Politics and Culture and author of “Ghanaian Politics Today” (Lulu.com, 2008). E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. ###