I have taken keen interest in the issues surrounding the publication of the “The books, History of Ghana Textbook 3 by Badu Nkansah Publications, features a song that shows the Ewes identity; Golden English Basic 4 by Golden Publications, displays ‘Efo agrees to prepare the juju for the players’ on page 17” and the reactions and counteractions on the issue. The issue has gained public cry from many well-meaning Ghanaians especially the Ewe community. These include the Volta Regional House of Chiefs, the concern Volta students associations have all reacted to the publication. This issue has also received attention of the media and has been on the airwaves for some time now.
It should be noted that the publisher had apologized for the publication. However, the demand still lingers that all the copies of the publication in circulation should be retrieved and destroyed. The stand is that Ghanaian children are to learn such and imbibed it as “Ewes are juju people” and this will indoctrinate the mindset of these children. Education is central to unlocking the individual potentials and conviction about life and especially about others (culture, behavior, beliefs etc.) when the person has no direct feel of such culture. What is carefully thought and learnt overtime is seldom forgotten especially when an individual learnt such thing in his/her early stage or age of development. One can anecdotally infer that what we learn when we were children still reflect in our thinking and memories if we have not come to realize the ‘truth’ of what we learned and know earlier. Thus, learning should focus on the values, attitudes and behaviors which enable individuals to learn to live together in a world characterized by diversity and pluralism.
A country as diverse with multicultural society as ours, we need to harness education to develop and not as a sword cutting against our progress as a society. Education is the most powerful resource which fast surpasses any other form of resource. This is why the nations with early educated minds (translated to technology and innovation) but with virtually no natural resource could develop and controls the geopolitical situation around the world. Education helps youth to choose and seek their interests and learn about others. Educated persons can mostly set goals for themselves and strive to achieve them. Thus, education propels the youth in the right, proper and straight direction. For this, what the individual learns at the early stage is important.
Education develops a country’s economy and society; therefore, it is the milestone of a nation’s development. Education provides knowledge and skills to the population, as well as shaping the personality of the youth of a nation. Nevertheless, education shapes the youth’s national identity. Education is generally seen as the foundation of society which brings economic wealth, social prosperity and political stability. Education therefore has a crucial long-term role in developing a knowledge and understanding of human rights, the values base they represent and the skills required to strengthen a democratic culture.
There is the need for a country like Ghana, to be circumspect about what we teach our children today (i.e. what goes into the curricular of our children). Education gives us the opportunity to learn from each other. It is within the confines of our educational institution that the “Dagomba” or “Ewe” boy or girl could meet in one common room as roommates, course mates etc. this allows for them to learn each other’s culture and norms. It is through this same system that will allow one to properly argue that such and such tribe is not such and such as perceived, because one was a friend to one of them at school level. Thus, they can coexist as one people and not feel superior over other tribes or cultures.
The publication in textbooks that are derogatory and defamatory to a section of tribe, community or group should be condemned and chastise by all well-meaning Ghanaians as such defamatory will lead to our children forming a conviction about each other.
The way forward
With this, the nation’s educational authorities should focus on the best ways to help strengthened the educational system to foster the sense of our oneness and national identity.
The Ghana Education Service could draw curricular that look at organization of several programmes that can build up the sense of interaction among the ethnic groups. At the same time, they can improve our children understanding of our diversity, uniqueness in the different ethnic groups. Such curricular could hammer, for instance, what is the link between different tribes in Ghana (between the Dagbon kingdom and the Ashanti Kingdom, between Ewes and Gas, etc. and how such similarities or difference could be cared for to ensure sense of Ghanaian national unity. By implementing such programmes and similar ones, our children could study and know the strengths and uniqueness of ethnic identities in Ghana. When the students have full understanding in ethnic identities, they will become more tolerate and respect one another ethnicity.
The sense of Ghanaian culture of patriotism should be key in the curricular. The proud Ghanaian in us should be thought to our children devoid of ethnic bigotry. A Ghanaian is a brother or sister to another Ghanaian and let’s emancipates ourselves from a mental slavery (as said by Bob Marley) as Ghanaians.
In this 21st century, our basic education should rather concentrate on ICTs aside oneness and also developed a knowledge-based economy instead of division. Our children should be made to learn local knowledge systems that are relevant for innovation and technology and not encouragement of ethnic bigotry. Curricular developed help children imbibed the needed knowledge to prepare them for the technology era.
Alhassan Abdulwakeel KARAKARA
Email: [email protected]