There is a saying that goes like “in the 21st century, the illiterate is not the one that cannot read or write but the one that cannot apply what he or she has been taught”. It is really not far from the truth. When you are taught an idea, you should be in the position to apply it. Inability to do so raises questions. In other parts of the world, the growth of entire economies has been blamed on the quality of education that is given to the citizenry. It is not by mistake that certain countries are the way they are. Education was and still not detached from national growth. Do we have the pride of saying same as Ghanaians?
In my third year at the secondary school level (I studied business by the way), I had no idea what a bank reconciliation statement looks like. I knew how to prepare it alright but I did not understand what it took to actually prepare it in real life. Fortunate for me, it was through my stubborn frequent visits to the school library that made me chance upon a book that contained a picture of a typical bank reconciliation statement. It totally changed my understanding of the topic. I can say the same for other subjects – integrated science even had it the worst because we learn names of stuff we don’t even know how they look like. But this is what we are left with – an unwholesome form of education.
It is quite interesting how we boast of receiving education in other parts of the world and not Ghana. When a typical Ghanaian graduate applies for a job with certification from a Ghanaian university, he/or she will be overlooked for a candidate with a foreign certificate. For some reason, employers expect those with foreign qualifications to be of high quality as compared to graduates trained locally. Maybe such employers are right because they have passed through the same local process and they know how shallow and impractical the courses are. In the course of preparing academic research papers (thesis), students are required to include recent reviews of literature of say ten years old or less. Interestingly, these same universities do not have updated libraries so one wonders where students are to get their literature from.
Our education is poor and this is not arguable. The means of teaching and the circumstances surrounding how students and pupils are taught is rather punitive instead of transformational. The lecturer stands in front of the class and decides to conduct a test on the day he/she sees the class size is small. Computers are drawn on black boards for pupils to copy and yet they are examined as though each pupil has a personal computer. The examination body does not really care what resources were available to the student. We expect without providing so perhaps it is not a surprise that an employer will consider a foreign certificate over a local one because such employer knows how poor our local content is.
After graduation and national service, fresh graduates complain of unemployment. Politics set in and the public outcry can get so loud as if the government is deliberately denying graduates of employment. Well, maybe the government is not denying graduates of employment but if this same government supervised a better educational system, perhaps graduates will be in the position to create their own jobs instead of waiting to be employed. Germany has placed great emphasis on technical education. In our case, we only changed the names to technical universities but the shallow content and lack of adequate resources are still the same. It is like spraying a faulty car and expecting it to operate like a brand new machine.
We as a people need to understand that education is the pathway to progress. Free education is one thing and teaching students to be independent and be in the position to sustain themselves is also another thing. We have to know that new jobs are not being created. The government only gets bigger by personnel size and not infrastructure wise. If any growth is to be achieved, it will come from our youth. They have so much energy and so much talent but we are not polishing and supporting them they way they ought to be supported. We have to emphasize more on experiential learning, field trips, experimentations, practical studies and we also need to reorient teachers and lectures to understand that they are not doing students and pupils a favor by deciding to each or lecture. As a paid job, nothing short of quality with good attitude is required. Together we can create a better Ghana by reforming our educational system because it is not late. It’s been a long rant but I hope it was sane enough.
Writer: Frank Akwei | @AkweiOfficial