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03.04.2008 Letter

GHANAIAN EDUCATION: PRODUCING CRITICS INSTEAD OF CREATORS

By Daniel Danquah Damptey

Dear Editor,
Ask any youth, and they will tell you that unemployment is the greatest problem in Ghana today. Ask them again, and they would tell you that the youth are unemployed because there are no jobs.

A terrible situation! Only a few youth who scramble for some paltry salaries ever get employed.

Not many people know that the schools share the blame for the massive unemployment. Our schools are expected to prepare the youth to fit into the community, and live lives useful to themselves and to the community.

What have our schools and institutions been doing? Offering bookish knowledge! Alienating the youth from society! Quenching their initiative, self confidence and ambition! Awarding glorifying pieces of paper: certificates that cannot even buy a bottle of coke! Yes, our schools are killing our youth!

Our youth are afflicted with endless examinations: The BEECE, Continuous Assessment Examinations/Tests and Quizzes. Weekly, daily and fortnightly tests, the SSSCE, etc. Have these examinations produced citizens equipped to meet the challenges of industrial and national development? If they had, should our country be in this mess of youth unemployment we find ourselves today? Should our youth be wandering on the fringes of society, confused and frustrated at best, and bitter, rebellious and criminal at worst?

Even criminals have come to learn the ABC of crime through the game of outwitting the examiners. Parents and even examiners themselves have been known to connive at, or abet such kindergarten criminals.

EDUCATION FOR CERTIFICATES:

Every year, hundreds of thousands of youth get certified by schools. But certified for what? Take a look at the unemployment beat. Take a look at the rural areas and see highly certified youth scrambling out of the place like ants out of a smoking ant hill into the fire called “the city”.

As soon as the last drums of convocation ceremonies sound and the scrolls are handed round, our secondary/high schools, universities and polytechnics consider their jobs done.

These might be partly true when certificates were sure house meal tickets. But even then, is that all there is to education? The situation is even worse today because the almighty certificate can no longer guarantee a meal. In such a situation, our schools have become irrelevant.

CONDITIONS OF TEACHERS:

What about the conditions of teachers? Teaching is supposed to be the noblest of professions, but in Ghana, it's become the profession for rejects, cast-outs and ne'er-do wells of other professions. Poor pay, humiliating image, and uninspiring conditions of service. The result: Education which has successfully landed us all in the gutter of unemployment.

Successive governments have tinkered with our schools to make them more meaningful and relevant, but as it is with most reforms here, these attempts have tended to go haywire. They have not yielded desired results!


PROBLEMS OF THE SCHOOL SYSTEM:

Basically, the following issues have continued to elude our school system: how to produce citizens who will be useful to themselves and to their communities, how to produce citizens who are well-equipped to exploit the abundant resources of their communities for the betterment of themselves, their communities and the nation as a whole, and finally, how to produce citizens to become aware of their cultural heritage, and perceive it as the very basis of all development, individually and naturally.

SOLUTION:

Our schools must provide qualitative and living education in contrast to the existing system, which among other things are geared towards alienating students from their communities and producing “critics” instead of “creators”.

Daniel Danquah [email protected]

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