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05.12.2007 Feature Article

SCIENCE EDUCATION : ANSWER TO OUR PREDICAMENT?

Is it time we stopped making unnecessary noises and start thinking as human-beings, who are prepared to use their God given brains to serve a better purpose: to upgrade our own lives and that of the future generation. If we are not prepared to learn and learn the hard way, with better understanding and more practical thinking; especially in the sciences, nothing good will come from Ghana and Africa in general.

Most people always complain and question; why imports from China, or made in Asia goods, but not Ghana? Yes it is made in China, because they are very hard working, as well as making sure that they study to the highest levels; with practical understanding to get things done. They also replicate (steal?) technology from others and make it their's. Travel to North America, as well as other developed countries, and visit the science graduate institutions and laboratories; you will be surprised to see how hardworking these Chinese, Koreans and Indians are working with their God given brains.
They are in all the laboratories of the universities, from coast to coast, doing almost all the research work: working 12 hours, almost everyday, all year, until they obtain their MSc. or Ph.Ds; sometimes going further up to post-doctoral fellowships. They complete their degree with much experience and better understanding of their varied field of specialty, and in most cases, end up becoming faculty members; with better track records to take back home for the development of their native countries.

This is one of the main reasons why most companies and industries are grooming scholars in their countries; simply because they are ready to learn and learn the hard way. They can apply what they have acquired to make things work, which is something we often do not have in our own country. We ought to stop complaining if we are too lethargic and not ready to learn the hard way, and use our brains to get things done ourselves.

We complete our BSc. from Tech, Legon, UCC, etc… after going through the recycling of the old system of learning, with no intensive research and practical background, lack of confidence, inability to use our acquired knowledge, and unable to solve simple problems; among other things. We often decide not to even continue our education, to get better insight and in-depth knowledge and understanding of our various disciplines, but we expect to gain all the wealth in the world within a very short time! Please, my fellow country men, and women, that does not work in the real world.

Note the large number of Ghanaians doing mundane work in North America and other developed countries, but do not misinterpret me as looking down on others. We end up working as a security guard (we say watchman in Ghana), cab driver, or a Cleaner; all this after obtaining our BSc. It is often because we rush and want everything the fastest way, while the majority of the Chinese, Koreans, Malaysians, Singaporeans and Indians, will continue their education to the highest level; and at times end up employing us. What I'm trying to drive home here is our inability to continue our education to the highest level, especially in the sciences, is making us underdeveloped; and also making us incapable of solving simple problems, thus always resorting to foreign assistance.

As an illustration of what I point out, here are some typical examples:

Providently, OIL has been found in Ghana, but because we do not use our brains to its fullest capacity, and refuse to study the application of science to the highest level to get a better understanding for solving problems, we would have to wait for others to come and drill for it; so they will take about 70% of the profit.

We have to rely on China to build our stadiums for the CAN 2008, and even fund, as well as build the Bui dam. I do not think China could have done this project with ease 50 years ago, but now they can. This should serve as a wake-up call to all Ghanaians to start redirecting our priorities for better purposes, instead of partying and procreating without thinking about the future.

The same expatriates have been extracting our gold, diamond and other minerals, since the 1800's, and being classified as less intelligent by the great Dr. Watson, we have accepted it as a normal situation; thinking it is all well. This paradigm will continue until that trend is reversed; when we focus our attention on the right and purposeful education, with practical thinking.

You will only reap what you sow and that is what is now paying dividends for the Chinese, Indians, Koreans, and others. It is because of their hard labor and commitment to further their education to the highest level, with better comprehension; something which we are not ready to do, because we want fast money: so we always end up becoming the losers.

So if we want to get there, is simple way: an attitudinal change, be prepared to work, learn the hard way with understanding, be ready to sacrifice some party and sex time, think and try to ask important questions; while finding real and practical solutions to them and awarding scholarships to deserving students to pursue practical and intensive research related sciences. Otherwise we are joking, and a day may come when others may have to teach us how to grow cocoa, maize, etc…., when our lands become arid; because by then, as people who are always making merry and expecting others to use their brains to invent for us, we may not have been prepared for that situation. We may not have the technology to circumvent the problem, simply because we are not ready to use our own intelligence, but instead focus on the pursuit of money; the quickest possible way.

What we have to realize is that, it is our apathy to the study of science and intensive research to the highest level that has resulted in Africans being classified as inferior beings; as Dr. Watson, the noble prize winner did. My fellow Ghanaians, we have to wake up from sleep and start from somewhere, before we are being classified as sub-human. Going to church or the mosque, does not solve the problem alone, even if we are strong believers; such as I am. We must combine faith and religious worship with spending most of our time, and energy, on our education; especially the study and application of science, to get us there. We always end up the losers, and if we will not change we shall continued to be classified as poor; till thy Kingdom come. As the saying goes "Heaven helps those who help themselves"!

These are the kind of thoughts and issues we ought to discuss, because we have just celebrated our 50th birthday, or else in the next 50 years the world will be comparing us to animals; Dr. Watson has already started.

We can have all the business acumen and entrepreneurship, but our science background is very fragile, and we cannot solve simple problems; because we have knowledge only from textbooks, and theory, with no research and practical background that will lead to innovations. As it is now, folks, we are just joking: it is like we are using a bucket with a hole drilled in it to fetch water; nothing can be achieved at the end of the day.

It is not too late if we start investing, hugely, in the sciences; especially its application; as it is being done in developed nations. We need to hire our young intelligent expatriates abroad, with better incentives to come and help; just as is being done by the Chinese, Indians, Koreans, and others, and which is now paying dividends for them. Otherwise, the next generation will curse us; because we are stabbing them slowly in their backs, with our inaction.
I love my beloved country Ghana, and Africa as a whole, so I hope this piece will be read by His Excellency President Kufuor, his ministers especially the minister for science and technology, and it is added to by other contributors on this forum. Thank you for reading, contributing and cheers.

Aki is a concerned Ghanaian studying for his Ph.D, abroad.

Edited and submitted by Bernard Tetteh

Bernard Tetteh
Bernard Tetteh, © 2007

This author has authored 3 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: BernardTetteh

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