Stroke of my pen: Realities on the ground and the apology of a big woman

Sat, 8 Aug 2015 Source: Blege, Alex

Alex Blege

Our educational system especially in the rural areas is bedevilled with a whole lot of problems that beg attention.

The problems: lack of teaching and learning materials, poor or no remuneration for teachers, poor supervision, poor attitudes towards teaching, poor attitudes towards learning, poor attitudes of parents and communities towards wards’ education, ineffective counselling unit at the rural level, no role models and as a musician once sang, the beat goes on.

The problems of our education at the basic level in this country, goes beyond building a number of school buildings and furnishing it; it goes beyond the pomp and pageantry that accompany its handing over ceremony; and the political talk during the handing over speech.

The politicians in this country in an attempt to win power promise beyond the realities, and when they have the reins of power, they sing the cliché; “the government cannot do it all alone”. So why sing a particular tune at one point in time and decide to sing another when the stark realities begin to dawn on them?

One of the cardinal theories that underpin solving a developmental challenge is not about getting things done for a people but it is about bringing them on board in the process of identification and solution of the problems. That is why they are equally known as stakeholders.

In Tampoure, a village in the Wa West District of the Upper West Region, I visited a school. The village is off the Wa to Wechau road. I happen to go there with the head teacher of the school. At Tampuore, there is a nice school building where pupils can learn without any hindrance.

However, as I conversed with the teachers and pupils, the realities begun showing that the nice building is just one thing, there is more to it.

The teachers begun narrating to me the challenges they face: some of them have worked for two years and they have not been paid; there is no accommodation for teachers in the community or the nearby community; truancy of pupils: all night services, funerals, market days, and farm work are reasons for truancy; and lack of parental control on wards.

The head teacher continued; he buys chalks for the school. I asked myself, why should it be so? What happens to the capitation grant? Are these not provided for by the Ghana Education Service?

This alone shows that all is not well at the rural level where the educational directors are the bosses. Someone needs to begin to get on the ground and find out what metropolitan, municipal and district directors do with the resources that are made available to them.

It is important to note that teachers who decide to demand for teaching and learning materials go through a whole lot of bureaucracy.

The school lacks the following: a library, a science and a computer laboratory and accommodation in the community for teachers who are posted to the school. So how does a pupil in Tampuore or any other school in any other part of rural Ghana where these problems exist perform well?

Or how does a teacher who lives about twenty kilometres away from the community come to school the day it rains, the day his or her motorbike breaks down?

We keep comparing the private schools to the public schools without taking into consideration the real problems that affect the public school. It calls for a deeper look into the issues. Political talk and statistics of how many school buildings were or have been constructed does not solve the problem.

The problem cuts across. Parents, teachers, pupils, educational directors, counsellors and role models, and those we have elected to run the affairs of this country.

Mrs Mathilda Amissah-Arthur wife of the Vice President of the Republic of Ghana became the eye of the storm last month.

What did she do? She scolded the headmistress of Kukurantumi Presby Primary School for asking her to speak on behalf of the school for the provision of chalks and log books. This was reported on graphic on line on Wednesday, July 15, 2015

And the people of the mother land took her on. I can just imagine how the vernacular radio stations will describe this situation. She expressed shock at such a request and the rest as the Akans will say, it is best seen not heard.

The solution to the problems that confront us is not in expressing shock and surprise; it calls for deeper thinking among parents or communities, teachers, policy makers, and educational directors.

A few days later, when the opportunity arose for her to speak at another function, she apologised for making comments that did not go down well with the populace.

In primary school, there was a subject we call Religious and Moral Education. In that subject there were three things that I learnt about what defines a person: “thank you, I am sorry and please”.

Thank you when you have received a favour; I am sorry when you have offended someone and please when you are making a request for a favour.

All said and done, this shows how the high and mighty across the political divide are not in touch with the small things that hurt the system. The high and mighty think that the problems are about the construction of classrooms, libraries, provision of textbooks and the provision of school uniforms.

Again, this shows that a lot of supervision needs to be done at the rural level. There are more questions than answers to be asked. Educational directors at the metropolitan, municipal and district levels must be monitored to ensure that they do their supervision work and they perform their duties in such manner that will not hinder academic work in any way.

Our educational system must not be an object of winning votes. Why? When it is politicised the politician begins to name it free or quality; however their own children or grandchildren will not experience the so called free or quality education they have provided for the people.

The reason is simple, it is free of knowledge or it is quality because there are very beautiful buildings and yet the problems that go beyond free and quality are left unsolved.


Columnist: Blege, Alex