10.09.2006 Feature Article

Leadership and socio- economic empowerment’s skills can be taught...

Leadership and socio- economic empowerment’s skills can be taught...
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There's a need for a National Self- Empowerment Training Academy.

The American first billionaire, Andrew Carnegie said, ”the Universal Principles of Success could be taught and learned, just as any other collection of mechanical skills”.

With the cultural of dependency, self-inflicted social wounds and the legacies of colonization , our sense of ingenuity has been impaired, so we have to find new ways to learn new skills . And, to keep tempo with time, and to accelerate developments in our localities and rural areas, it's imperative for our chiefs, community and civic-organization leaders, Assembly men and women, religious leaders, police service heads, head of our institutions, head- teachers and head- masters and even some members of our political parties to have very intensive 'special skills' training----in a very special institution.

Nope, our problem is not lack of intellect, but lack of good execution skills. Even in business, there are good strategies which are poorly executed and poor strategies which are well executed. So the goals of the institution I am about to propose are nothing earth-shaking, nothing revolutionary, probably nothing you don't already know. The issue is EXECUTION but, not INNOVATION. It's my hope that such school could inoculate the next generation--- if not this generation--- against other socioeconomic ills which prevent us from living up to our potentials. It could also inflate our youth with values, civic- responsibility, self-discipline, a strong sense of moral compass and an obligation to the growth of fellow Ghanaians and communities. Hopefully, such school could also inflate our youth with some special 'skills' which are not available in our regular institutions.

Listen to this: I once asked the chief of my town to give me a rough estimate of the population of the town. And, his answer was,”mi nnim” (I don't know).”Ok, this is too technical, so let me try another one”, I said to myself. So I went on to inquire about the town's finances—especially, the revenue resources. With those questions, the impression on his face was indicative of a person forced to testify against his loved one. I figured I was making him very uncomfortable—to say the least— because he did not have a clue. And, without even knowing the population of the town, how can anyone know how many of them living outside the country? Mind you, this has nothing to do with his level of education. Far from that. And, he's not alone.

What about our other institutions? I remember, I bought a cell phone for the Police Station in my town. But, the Station couldn't afford to pay for the bi-monthly re-chargeable units required to maintain the number usage. So the phone number was subsequently cancelled when the original unit I bought with the phone was used up. In other words, the citizens' chance of contacting the Police Station in case of an emergency, went down the drain because of the failure to pay a maintenance fee of fifty-five thousand cedis every two months .Oh, speaking of the Police, I know in other part of the world( the real world)DOGS are very important part of the crime fighting arsenal. This is something every Police Station in Ghana can and should copy, but don't ask me why it's not practiced. In short, in our part of the world our system doesn't offer us enough tools to tap into our resources—to better our living standards.

I wonder how many towns and villages in Ghana know how to generate revenue from their own resources .What about our local churches? Is there any reason why the congregations go to church services with empty stomach? Churches should use the Pulpit as a teaching tool of Self-Empowerment. What about the churches using one day a week to teach the congregations about money matters, entrepreneurial skills, health issues and how to increase their earning potentials ? Because a person's religious values are shaky and under-mined if he's poor. Poverty can take hold on every aspect of one's life.

The Power and the role of churches:-

Check this out: there are about 5 million Ghanaians who attend church regularly. If just 50 percent of this decided to contribute five thousand cedis every week, by one year a lot of money could be raised. This money could be used as a church –sponsored capital pool for Church investment Clubs. , These investment Clubs could also function as alternative sources of business financing, for the churches' congregations. What about Credit Unions or Loan Funds designed to provide business and personal loans for aspiring business people, while the church-owned lending entities profit from the interest and fees on the loans? The point is , if a person builds the largest church in the world with the largest congregation in Ghana, it contributes nothing if the church does not render any social and community services to the growing Underclass, who feels abandoned and confused about its role in today's Ghana.

This is not an indictment of our churches or institutions and civic leaders. But, it's something to highlight the importance and the need to have a Training Academy for our communities and civic-organization leaders. I used Ghanaian Churches to make my point, because they're by far the most well-organized and stable institution in our country. They also have very dependable and devoted members, of which they can easily tap into .So any major economic take-off can not survive without their inputs and support.

In fact, our developments are more or less intertwined with the strength of our institutions and how our community-based leaderships' execution skills—if any— are used . Our chiefs, school heads, Churches , Assembly people and District Executives ,all hold the keys to your progress. So if they don't make use of our resources (land, manpower and intellectual prowess) then we will continually live a mediocre life. That's why it's imperative to pursue vigorously a National Empowerment Training Academy—something in between a College and a THINK TANK .

1) To train our youth in leadership and entrepreneurial skills
2) To learn how to use our resources wisely.
3) Turn our towns and Villages into job creating centers.
4) To train people to be less dependency on the government and individuals.
5) To create socioeconomic mechanism of which income, wealth and business opportunities could germinate.
6) To help our Churches make use of their huge resources and play their meaningful roles in our communities.
7) To prevent the youth from going to the Cities to look for jobs which are nowhere to be found.
8) To help our chiefs and community-leaders to be more business oriented

The nature of the institution:
This institution would be non-profit one, designed as an information reservoir, wealth generating vehicle to help our communities to generate revenues and investment. And, a training Center for our leaders and youth .

The School's courses would comprise of: basic money and small business management, entrepreneurship, Time management, How to manage people, How to invest in Asset instead of Funerals and Litigations ,How to locate resources avenues in our communities, Ethics, Mentoring, Public Speaking and Motivational skills, Personal Responsibility tools, Basic computer skills and other self-Empowerment skills like, Conflict management and Parenting.

With the above mentioned courses, TIME management is my favorite. Because there's a direct link between respect for others' time and respect for others' opinions, properties, rights, others kinds of agreements and contracts. A person reveals a great deal about himself/herself by his/her punctuality or lack of it. If you could not relied on him/her to honor a simple commitment as TIME ,why should anyone believe that he/she could honor more important ones like: caring for the peoples' needs, accountability, empathy, benevolence, obedient and responsibility? In short, people who are habitually , not punctual can't be trusted in other important areas of life. In the same vain, you can pretty much predict one's economic status if you knew how one spends his time. It's also believed that highly successful people have one thing in common—that's their respect for Time. Huumm !, I wonder if our disregard for TIME has anything to do with the mediocre life we experience in our part of the world. It's a fact, we don't value TIME at all. (Have I offended everybody yet?)

Duration of the course:

The program shouldn't take more than 6 months. And, Classes would be conducted from Friday— Sunday.

Nature of the teaching Methods:
Classes would be conducted in group discussions, debates, brainstorm sessions, video presentations and field trips. Kwahus' business skills would be used as a teaching tool model. I choose Kwahus because they're by far the most often held up culture model of success in Ghana . Without a doubt, Kwahus have been one of the most successful groups in Ghana. And, their economic success is likely be attributed to their cultural values of being: very thrifty, ambitious ,commercially aggressive and close knit group. They're also known for their business acumen and their cultural ethic of taking care of members of their communities. In fact, I wonder why such a successful economic model hasn't been a Text -book study for our Schools and Colleges. ( Have I offended you long enough to prevent you from reading further?) I hope I'm not starting a third world war here.

Instructors: Those who would teach in the school would do that on voluntary basis. Therefore, any Ghanaian at home or abroad who wants to share his/her skills and knowledge would be welcomed. And, you don't need a degree to teach there.

Language of instruction:
To encourage full Students' participation in the classroom and discussions , Ghanaian languages of their choice would be allowed to use, but any language use in the class would be translated into English .Another reason is that using Ghanaian languages of their choice could allow illiterate farmers or traders or half-literates to feel comfortable to participate and be active candidates of the school. One's brain size is not measured by one's command of the English language. Therefore, we can't and shouldn't base one's intellect on one's proficiency in English.

A certificate would be issued to those who could complete the entire 6-month course .

I'm sure there are plenty of sources where money could be generated to fund this institution. But, to prevent your negative impulses from going haywire ,what about putting tolls on Accra –Kumasi Highway and turn this major road into investment enterprise (a Highway Corporation)where the public can own a share? The money from this Highway-Enterprise alone can finance the proposed institution and other projects in our towns and villages. Am- I making you mad enough ? Go ahead and call me crazy!

With this institution , we could transform our towns , villages and neighborhoods from a mere geographical grouping into functional communities and repository of ideas, where real wealth is accumulated and generated. Is this too much to ask from our Leaders and the citizens of this great Nation?

*The writer's the Founder of Adu-Gyamfi Educational Foundation and Entrepreneurship and Apprenticeship Programs, for the Youth of Asuom.

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