Dr. George Kankam, Senior Lecturer at the University of Education, Winneba, on Tuesday observed that even though the educational reforms were well-intentioned in pushing the nation's developmental agenda forward, they had not been able to achieve their ultimate objectives.
This, he said, was the more reason why formal education still remained “bookish and white-collar job-oriented.”
Dr Kankam made the observation at the launch in Accra of activities to mark the 60th Anniversary Celebration of Benkum Senior Secondary School (BENSCO), Larteh, on the theme: “Sixty Years of Educational Vision-Prospects and Challenges.”
He expressed regret that none of the reforms was able to address national educational goals, because after 50 years of educational reforms, “our education system leads to the creation of an army of unemployed, unskilled, and in some cases, unemployable youth.”
Dr Kankam, the Guest Speaker, and an old boy of the school, pointed out that, even though education was the key to development, it could also lead to the production of unemployable or unemployed youth, disturbed and discontented, who could be a ready material for political adventurers to destabilize “our nation, if education is not well-planned and executed.”
He stated that educational institutions were not established for decorations, but to provide knowledge, skills, and the right attitudes to the youth in order to help them integrate meaningfully and fully as individuals into society, and contribute to societal growth and advancement.
Dr Kankam noted that the greatest hindrance to achieving the desired benefits of the nation's education “is our attitude,” and therefore stressed the need for a revolutionary attitudinal change, rather than sermonizing, doing exactly the opposite of what we teach or preach or admonish others to do.
He suggested that Guidance and Counselling be made functional in all spheres of the Ghanaian education system, so as to help establish effective inter and intra human relationships.
He tasked stakeholders in education to be dispassionate about issues which centred on education, because in his view, any attempt to politicize education would create serious problems for the nation.
“Posterity would hold us responsible and accountable for our actions and inactions, if we did not use concerted efforts to deal with the challenges facing the nation's educational system,” he said.
The Guest Speaker charged policy makers to pay greater attention to articulation between General Secondary Education and Technical and Vocational Training and Education, with the aim of bringing the two streams closer in terms of curriculum design and organization.
“Our secondary level education should be concerned with the holistic development and empowerment of the total human person in a societal context. We need to pay serious attention to technical and vocational education.”
Dr Kankam said research evidence indicated that conducive school environment impacted positively on teaching and learning, adding that, a well- motivated teaching force led to an increase or improvement in students' academic achievement.
While commending the Government and the Ghana Natioanl Association of Teachers for instituting the “Best Teacher Award Scheme” and other incentives to motivate teachers, he pointed out that these incentives appealed more to the extrinsic motivational aspect of a teacher's professional development which were ephemeral, to the neglect of the essential and enduring intrinsic motivational aspects.
Dr Odame Larbi, President of BENSCO Old Students Association, commended the Parent-Teacher Association for its tremendous support for the school over the years, by constructing bungalows for staff; purchasing vehicles for the school; and providing additional incentives for the teachers.
He reminded members of the association that it was their sole responsibility to ensure that their alma mater developed better than they came to meet it.
“We have to raise the school's standard to the point where we can be proud of the school and say yes I studied in that school.”
Osabarima Asiedu Okoo Ababio III, Omanhene of Akuapem Guan Traditional Area and an old boy who was the Guest of Honour, lauded students of BENSCO for exhibiting a high sense of discipline, and urged them to take their studies seriously.
Osabarima Ababio also commended the staff for their dedication, commitment and devotion to duty, and assured them of the necessary motivation from the Old Students Association.
Nana Addo Gyau Akabisa II, Headmaster of the school, in a welcoming address, paid glowing tribute to the founding fathers for their foresight, sacrifice and perseverance that had brought BENSCO this far, especially the late Dr Alexander Ansah-Koi who founded the school single-handedly.
Recounting the historical background of the school, the headmaster said, BENSCO which started with only five students in 1949, could now boast of a student population of 1,378.
He urged past students to unite and form a strong association that could stand the test of time, to help bring BENSCO to a higher standard.