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Why Ghana needs to change its approach to education

Sun, 15 Nov 2009 Source: The Catalyst

It has been observed that in order for Ghana to be truly the Gateway to Afrika and play a key role in the economic renaissance of the continent, there needs to be a radical overhaul, re-analysis and re-appraisal of the current education system.

There are many flaws in the current education system in Ghana. The key ones that have been identified are as follows:

1. The Education system is too European orientated.

2. The current education system teaches Ghanaians as a whole to become consumers rather than producers and creates a dependency culture.

3. The education system results in many of its products wanting to leave Ghana for the West.

4. The current education system tends to concentrate more on theory as opposed to practical application.

5. The current system of education does not equip the Ghanaian with the core skills that are imperative in the global context.

Before we deal with each of the above systematically, it is important for the readers to note that when we are dealing with any given situation it is important to analyze it from an holistic perspective looking at it from a past, present and future paradigm.

Therefore we are now going to take a critical analysis of the 5 key flaws of Ghana’s Education System.

The Education system is too European orientated – Whether Ghanaians like it or not, accept it or not, this is the reality of the situation in Ghana. It is important for the readers to appreciate that the current education system in Ghana today is a remnant of the imperialists who introduced this European orientated system to Ghana.

What this European orientated system has done is to indoctrinate into the minds of the Ghanaian that everything White/European is good and that everything Black/Afrikan is bad.

A typical example of this is the behaviour of the political leadership of this country who have been put through this European orientated system of education.

Because these political figures have been educated away from their Afrikan self, they have no confidence in the Afrikan’s ability to be able to do for self. This is why they are quick to invite in particular so-called White/European consultants to come to Ghana and ‘solve’ our problems.

These so-called consultants are paid huge salaries in Euros or US Dollars, get free accommodation, phone usage, electricity, chauffeur driven car etc at the Ghanaian taxpayer’s expense, and do not do anything for the country.

A fine example of this is the European/White so-called consultants who were called in by the Government of Ghana to ‘solve’ the crisis at Ghana Telecom. This resulted in these so-called consultants mis-managing Ghana Telecom before the Government of Ghana had to intervene.

Again the Government of Ghana has called in White people to look into the exploration of oil as it has been ‘discovered’ that Ghana has an estimated 3 billion barrels of untapped oil.

However if one were to talk about the innovations in oil exploration technology many Ghanaians especially the mis-educated political leadership would be surprised to know that the technology in oil exploration was created by an Afrikan named Philip Emeagwali NOT a White/European.

So this begs the question, why did the Government of Ghana not invite this Afrikan genius?

The European orientated system of education apart from giving the Ghanaian a lack of confidence in its own abilities has also created a situation where many Ghanaians know next to nothing of their Great Afrikan history/heritage.

It is this lack of proper knowledge of their Afrikan history that makes many Ghanaians disbelieve in their own and fellow Afrikans ability or genius. As a great Afrikan American civil rights leader said “If you lack knowledge in what you have done you will lack confidence in what you can do”

This statement is the crux of the problem because due to this European orientated education system the majority of Ghanaian youth, elder people, politicians etc believe that only the White man is capable of doing anything and that they do not have an appreciation of what the Afrikan has contributed to world civilization and culture.

If the Ghanaian but Ghanaian children in particular were educated to know that Mathematics, Religion, Astrology, Architecture, Masonry, Physics, Chemistry, Commerce, Agricultural technology etc ALL originated in Afrika by Afrikan people - and moreover that if they understood that some of the most innovative inventions ever made such as the internet, the PC, the mobile phone, the traffic lights, the digital camera, space technology etc were invented by people who looked like them then they would have a far more complete understanding, appreciation and awareness that they too are just as capable of great inventions and having a role to play in nation building.

The current education system teaches Ghanaians as a whole to become consumers rather than producers and creates a dependency culture – this is so true when one looks at the economic activity and output of Ghana, that most of the productivity is by non-Ghanaians.

If one analyses the key sectors of the Ghanaian economy such as mining, manufacturing, retail, banking, agriculture and tourism it appears that the main players are European, Arab and Indian businesspeople whilst the Ghanaian is relegated to small scale businesses that do not generate a high return on investment.

Another aspect of this European orientated education system is reflected in Ghana’s balance of payments balance sheet. When one analyses Ghana’s balance of payments balance sheet, one would notice that there is a huge deficit between what Ghana imports and what Ghana exports.

This is because Ghana imports too much – virtually everything! From toilet roll to tooth picks and from razor sticks to rice.

As a result of our mis-education and the import policy it appears that the Ghanaian has a taste for everything that is foreign and as such is prepared to consume everything and produce nothing. What we produce isn’t even owned by us.

Ghana cannot sustain this policy of importing everything – sooner or later the bubble will burst and Ghana will pay a heavy price for depending on others for what it needs to survive.

As one of the greatest Afrikans who ever lived, the honourable Marcus Mosiah Garvey said “A people who depends on another for their economic survival sooner or later dies”.

Another way in which our dependency on Europeans, Arabs, Indians and Chinese manifests itself is by the amount of businesses they operate especially in Accra.

A prime example of this is Oxford Street, Osu. From Danquah circle through to Papaye my investigation of the businesses located in this area conclude that 99% of the businesses located there are owned by European, Arab, Indian and Chinese entrepreneurs. Add to this, 3 of the biggest and most popular shopping plazas in Accra namely Koala, Max Mart and the Accra Mall are all owned by non-Ghanaians.

This demonstrates an over dependency on foreigners of the highest order. One may ask whatever happened to Ghanaian entrepreneurship. As a sovereign country we should be able to consume what we produce and produce what we consume and NOT consume what others produce.

Can we really say with an open heart that everything that is foreign is good for our health?

This dependency culture can even be explained on another front as the budget of the Government of Ghana is up to 60% controlled by ‘donor’ countries. The saying he who plays the piper calls the tune becomes a dangerous reality in the life of Ghana especially when one examines some of the policies and programmes that have been implemented to the detriment of Ghana’s economic development.

The education system results in many of its products wanting to leave Ghana for the West. Again this is direct consequence of a European orientated curriculum that values everything White/European and devalues everything that is Afrikan. No wonder then that if they had the opportunity and the means many more graduates would leave Ghana in search of what they see as ‘greener’ pastures elsewhere.

The education system tends to concentrate on theory as opposed to practical application - Again this is true when one examines the quality of graduates that leave the Universities of Ghana.

This is testified by a friend of mine who is a recruiter. As part of the interview process he gave 8 university graduates a simple numeracy test and basic typing test.

The results of these tests were pretty bad in that ALL 8 graduates had poor typing skills and only 2 of the 8 graduates had good basic arithmetic skills.

So somewhere along the line, there is something fundamentally wrong with the Ghanaian Education System when university graduates can’t even perform simple arithmetic tasks and simple typing!!!

This leads nicely to the last key issue that the current system of education in Ghana does not equip Ghanaians with the core skills that are important in the age of globalization.

If Ghana is to reach some of its development goals, if Ghana is to obtain its status as a middle income country by 2015 and if Ghana is really going to be the Black Star of Afrika, then Ghana needs to have a highly skilled workforce with the technical abilities and capabilities to move the country into a new dynamic period of economic growth and prosperity.

At this moment in time if the above is any indication, Ghana in global terms has a poorly educated and trained that lacks core skills such as

• Basic customer service skills

• Competence in communicating effectively in the English language both orally and grammatically.

• Basic numeracy skills

• Typing skills

• Presentation skills

• Analytical skills

Without these basic core skills, Ghana is going nowhere. Although steps have been taken to address the system, they do not go far enough.

So what is the solution? The solution is for a radical overhaul of the current system of education in Ghana.

First and foremost it is important to recognize and appreciate that the current system of education in Ghana is very European orientated which is detrimental to Ghana’s future development and prosperity.

This is primarily so because at the base level, this system of education subtly values everything that is European and devalues everything that is Afrikan. This is cause for concern because you cannot put a European mind in the mind/body of a Ghanaian/Afrikan and expect that same person to act in a manner that will help uplift Ghana and Afrika.

This has certainly been the case with many European trained/schooled Afrikan politicians who through their European orientated schooling/training have ruled their countries for selfish individual gain and for European empowerment at the expense of the overwhelming majority of Afrikan people and Afrikan under-development.

Therefore it is essential to have a curriculum that is Afrikan orientated which makes the Ghanaian/Afrikan the central point and which values the Afrikan as a major contributor to humanity and being capable of further contributing in a positive way to the future progress of humanity.

An Afrikan centered curriculum including the following will give those who go through this type of curriculum all the essential tools that are necessary for nation building and sustainable development.

• An emphasis on technical expertise/competence

• A focus on analytical thinking and problem solving

• An ability to plan ahead for at least 50 years

• A basic level of customer service awareness and appreciation

• A worldview that is first and foremost Afrikan-centered

• A desire to pursue excellence in everything

• A strong sense of self worth and reliance

The above when inculcated into the psyche of the Ghanaian child will empower that child to be extra special knowing that it has a key role to play in elevating Ghana to be a key global player in the 21st century and beyond.

By Dr. Kwame Osei Business Development Consultant BEDCO (Business Entreprise Development Consultancy) BEDCO House 3 Trorbu Link, New Achimota www.bedco.net.

EDITORIAL EDITORIAL Use of Jubilee House is President’s choice The decision of the President, John Evans Atta Mills, to receive the letters of credence of some Ambassadors-designate at the Jubilee House, has been received with mixed reactions. Whiles some believe it is in the right direction and a preparation towards the President’s eventual occupation of the edifice, there are those who think he is just playing politics with the whole issue. Coming in the wake the occupation of the building by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the temporary use of the building raises hopes of the building being used by the President soon. Much as the President has all along indicated that he would not let the building waste away, there are critics who are still breeding the false campaign lies that the NDC was going to use the place as a poultry farm. Even though that argument makes no sense, it beats the imagination of right-thinking Ghanaians that some people would continue to do politics with the issue.

The Catalyst would like to state that it is the President’s prerogative to work either at the Castle, Osu or the new Palace. What is more important is whether he is delivering on his responsibilities as the head of state. After all, previous Presidents have all used the same Presidency without compromising on their responsibility as President.

Whatever one does on this earth and in Ghana in particular would be criticized and the best option left for the President is to choose what would make him more comfortable in the discharge of his duty. At the appropriate time, the building would be used.

Coming to think of it, did the previous government consider what the masses were saying at the time the decision to put up the building was taken. Mr. President, go to the Jubilee House whenever you choose and ignore the detractors.

Columnist: The Catalyst