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Opinions Sat, 23 Apr 2016

Ban this book from our public schools

News that Mr. Albert Joseph Quarm’s book titled Natural Science for Primary Schools – Pupil’s Book 1 has not been approved for the instruction of elementary school pupils by the Ministry of Education, ought to come as very refreshing to those of us on the lookout to having our children and grandchildren equipped with the best instructional materials that modern education has to offer. Which means that our prayer is to have our younger generation educated reasonably well enough to be able to compete with their age-mates and classmates anywhere on the planet. Telling impressionable pupils that the primary function of the human head is for porterage or carrying loads is decidedly untenable (See “Prof. Quarm’s Textbook Not Approved for Schools – Edu. Ministry” Citifmonline.com / Ghanaweb.com 4/4/16).

In another news report, however, Mr. Quarm claims that his patently non-starter of a natural science textbook has been approved by the Ministry of Education as a “supplementary textbook.” If his assertion has validity, and one hopes not, then the press statement by the Ministry of Education that it has not approved the Quarm book is as good as never made. For a supplementary textbook has an equal potentiality of being accessed by our elementary pupils almost at the same rate as the officially approved textbook. A supplementary textbook simply means that the book in question is a fairly good alternative to those that have been officially approved. The Ministry of Education has issued a statement to the salutary effect that the only textbook that has been officially approved for scientific instruction at the first-grade level is titled Natural Science for Primary Schools: Activity-Based Pupils’ Book 1, which is coauthored by Peter Asiedu, Henric Atta Baa-Yeboah and Ebenezer Domptey.

And in the latter book, quite aptly, the primary function of the human head is characterized as follows: “Our head contains the brain which helps us to think.” Now, what the Ministry of Education needs to do is come out with another press release or official statement categorically proscribing the supplemental validity of the Quarm book. The Ministry already appears to have issued a statement to the preceding effect as follows: “For the avoidance of doubt, the said book has not been taken through the approval processes of the Curriculum Research and Development Division of the Ghana Education Service.” Nevertheless, emphatically banning the Quarm book from all public elementary schools would send a crystal clear message to the author that a free-market democratic culture does not permit him the license to peddle junk science in the country.

The Ministry may also need to publicly clarify precisely what criteria are involved in the approval of textbooks for supplementary use. If it turns out that, in fact, Mr. Quarm’s book has not been approved for supplementary use by the Ministry of Education then, clearly, the author of this junk-science textbook is in abject and criminal denial. And if he persists in peddling his book, instead of having it thoroughly revised and re-submitted to the MoE or any other relevant accredited board or institution for approval, then he could be promptly charged with fraud and rigorously prosecuted. Contrary to what some of his supporters would have the rest of Ghanaian society believe, what we have here has absolutely nothing, whatsoever, to do with censorship. Rather, it is about the intellectual security and integrity of our future leaders. And on the latter score, there ought to be no compromise, whatsoever.

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Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame