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Opinions Mon, 6 Jun 2016

The problem is poor leadership

I agree with the President of the Ghana Association of Writers (GAW) that Ghanaians are fast losing their identity; however, the problem is not primarily because the literary and/or scholastic enterprise is not lucrative, as Mr. Kwasi Gyan-Apenteng would have the rest of the nation believe (See “Ghana Losing Identity – Gyan-Apenteng” Classfmonline.com / Ghanaweb.com 5/28/16). Rather, the problem is one of poor leadership. For instance, even as I write, the leaders of the two major political parties in the country, namely, the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), have been playing political football over whether the most appropriate duration of a well-rounded secondary education ought to be three or four years.

The leaders of the NDC have been doggedly and adamantly pursuing a three-year policy, whilst the NPP leaders have been advocating for a return to the four-year system pursued by the Kufuor government. Amidst this lurid game of numbers, little is being said about an optimal curricular content and the duration over which such standard corpus of knowledge could be effectively mastered. Our leaders do not seem to be much concerned about the recent ranking of the quality of education of some 76 countries around the world, conducted by experts from the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), in which the quality of Ghana’s public education was ranked at the bottom-most rung of the ranking. It well appears that much of the discussion on secondary education has tended to revolve around the shortest amount of time over which students could be adequately prepared to pass their exit exams.

In other words, little time has been expended on knowledge retention and its effective application in the real world. The rapid loss of our indigenous languages, ethical principles and cultural identity and practice has been largely due to the present government’s abject lack of foresight or the sheer reluctance to significantly invest in public education, especially at the elementary and secondary levels. As well, whatever resources that have been committed to education have almost invariably been in the form of raw physical plant structures, rather than both the latter as well as curricula development. The poor infusion of local curricular content has almost automatically guaranteed that in the era of the Internet, Ghanaian youths would be inordinately focused on the cultures that have played a leading role in the development of Internet hardware and operational software.

Put in simple terms, Ghanaian educators and policymakers have yet to facilitate the organic and constructive adaption of these cutting-edge technologies to move our cultures and values into the postmodern era of the twenty-first century. Generally speaking, the quality of Ghanaian writing since independence, with very minimal exceptions, has always left much to be desired; and such poor writing skills and quality have been decidedly across the board. A significant part of the problem is because the intellectually exacting culture of reading and writing has not been broadly and systematically encouraged and promptly rewarded. For instance, it has been widely observed that Nigerians tend to be better and more robust writers than Ghanaians because the spirit of competition is fostered at a very early age in West Africa’s most populous country, with regular literary competitions held at both local and regional levels on a practically annual basis.

Personally, I can count on one hand the number of literary competitions organized for elementary, secondary schools and colleges while growing up in Ghana. To be certain, most of the pupil- and student-authored magazines and journals which we were encouraged to subscribe to in both elementary and high schools were published in Nigeria. And so, really, no honest present-day Ghanaian adult can pretend that the problem reared its proverbial ugly head just the other day. It has always been with us, and one that successive governments have attempted to address with varying degrees of success.

We really don’t need Pan-Africanism or the burial of the mortal remains of leading Pan-Africanist proponents like W.E.B. DuBois, Kwame Nkrumah and George Padmore to infuse a sense of ethnic and cultural pride in our youths and ourselves. The fact of the matter is that distinguished Ghanaian leaders like Mr. Kobina Sekyi and Dr. J. B. Danquah contributed far more in the realm of indigenous literary production than any of the so-called Pan-Africanists mentioned by Mr. Gyan-Apenteng. This is rather ironic, but a remarkable bit of the problem of Ghanaian cultural atrophy has to do with our excessive focus on Pan-Africanism to the near-total exclusion of “Pan-Ghanaism,” as Dr. Danquah would have so wisely and pragmatically cast matters. The fact of the matter is that charity ought to always begin at home. Most of our so-called firebrand Pan-Africanist Ghanaian citizens have yet to learn this much.

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Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame