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06.02.2009 Editorial

Our Wish List for the President (4)

By Public Agenda

The importance of education in the development process cannot be over-emphasised. Besides training the workforce for increasingly complex tasks, education is important for nation building, health and governance, to mention a few. Rapid technological progress in a broad range of areas has made education a necessity for all citizens. This necessity, combined with rapid increase in birthrate in Ghana, has greatly increased the demand for basic education.

At independence, Ghana's education system was rated as one of the best in the developing world. This explains why Ghana produced a lot of quality intellectuals who in no time made it to the international scene. The growth in the quality of Ghana's manpower was largely attributed to the sound and continuous educational policies that were pursued by our pre-independent governments.

The same cannot be said of the succeeding governments of the last four decades. In the last three decades, we have had the unfortunate practice of governments changing our educational policies just to suit the tastes of our foreign donors or, at worse, to suit their political manifestoes without regard to the harm the frequent changes are having on our youth. As a result of this political game, several youth in the past were reduced to guinea pigs, while the very people who made the policies took their children outside the country for better education.

Once more we are faced with another change in educational policy, if the comments of Mr. Alex Tetteh Enyo, the Minister for Education designate are to be taken seriously. Mr. Enyo, who will be vetted tomorrow, was widely reported in the media as saying that he would change the four-year Senior High School policy introduced by the Kufuor administration. This newspaper does not need to remind President John Evans Atta Mills and his government that a lot of research, consultation and resources went into implementing the current scheme; so to revert to the old system after the universities have adjusted their curricular to accommodate the new system would be a waste of time and resources. It would also be another attempt to use our unfortunate children as guinea pigs for political expediency. The NDC may have the policy on their manifesto alright, for which reason they feel they owe it a duty to the electorate to honour the promise but this newspaper would rather the government had a change of mind over the policy.

It is better keeping the children in secondary school for four years and ensuring that they use the last year learning technical or vocational skills so they can use those skills to enhance their lives in case they fail to make the grades for the university

There is evidence that the quality of basic education in Ghana is falling, largely due to the frequent changes in direction. One of the major weaknesses of our education system is the irrelevance of the curricula to the socio-economic needs of our country. The Mills-administration should spend the next four years fine tuning the curriculum, rather than a universal overhaul of the educational system. In a world increasingly dominated by science and technology, Ghana's educational system must be geared towards producing students and graduates with higher skills in science and technology. Frequent changes in direction will not ensure this, Mr. President.

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