I was shocked but not totally surprised to see that more than 50% of Ghanaian children failed the recent BECE examinations.
As a country that is supposed to be going forward we (government officials, parents, teachers, society at large) should be absolutely appalled by this development and hang our heads in shame.
With all the apparent changes and developments that have been made in the field of education it is totally unacceptable that more than 50% of students should fail BASIC exams.
There are many reasons why this is the case that more than 50% of our children are failing exams and the essence of this article is to explain some of these reasons for our children not doing to well at school.
The first reason is that as a country we have a two-tier education system. The first tier is the state schools many of which are inadequately resourced and the second tier is the international schools that are highly resourced.
It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that the schools with the most resources are the ones that have the acumen to fully equip the child and hence increase its educational opportunities.
Moreover the schools that are starved for resources are the ones that as a result are not going to devote enough time and energy into educating our children.
Despite certain noises made by the political parties the reality of the situation is that over the years the state school system has seen an erosion in funding and as a result of this chronic lack of funds the quality of education that has emanated from the state schools system leaves a lot to be desired.
Therefore if we are serious as a nation in improving this, then the government needs to invest wholesale in the state education system as this is where the vast majority of Ghanaian children go to.
Furthermore in my view I think the whole school curricula needs to be revamped to take into account modern days trends in education and fit them into our own needs as a country.
It is not in the interest of the future of this country if the state school system is left to degenerate and so extra attention must be paid by those in authority to ensure that the state schools are adequately resourced.
The next reason why more than 50% of children failed is the teachers. In the state school system where the vast majority of children go to, the teachers are poorly paid. This coupled with the poor working conditions and environment alone is enough to de-motivate any teacher from giving his/her all in spending quality time and teaching the children to the best of their ability.
Again some of these teachers who teach our children are themselves either poorly trained or qualified and DO NOT necessarily have what it takes to teach our children in a way that is conducive to their educational wellbeing.
Again the state has to ensure that it invests enough in teachers by giving them huge incentives and improving their working conditions and improving the standard of quality that emanates from teachers because the teacher is the foundation of the education system, and without them we are not going to produce the doctors, lawyers, accountants, ministers etc of tomorrow – in addition to this one could also inject the teaching methodology of some of these teachers that leaves a lot to be desired.
The next reason why more than 50% of children failed is down to some of the socio-economic problems facing the country. For example it is a common fact that in the major cities and rural communities, there is a chronic shortage of water.
How this manifests itself is that children from less affluent backgrounds are seen looking for water in the mornings and in the evenings when they should be concentrating on getting ready for school and/or doing their homework.
Another issue regarding some of the social problems that affect the country is the frequent power shortages that regularly hit the country. Now children again from less affluent backgrounds are exposed to the worst affects of these power outages as when they occur they have no light in which do their homework or concentrate on their studies.
Therefore the government must take adequate steps to ensure that these power outages are a thing of the past and ensure that children from less privileged backgrounds have the freedom to study without experiencing these constant power outages and water shortages.
Another reason why more than 50% of children failed is due to diet. Many people underscore the importance of diet and the role it plays in a child's development but the overwhelming fact is that if a child does not get the right nutrition then it is going to affect its ability to study.
Research from the UK and the US indicates that children who have a proper and healthy meal at breakfast are more likely to perform than those who do not have breakfast or eat the wrong things for breakfast.
As has already been mentioned, the majority of the 50% that failed the BECE exams are from poor and disadvantaged backgrounds. As a result many of these children do not either eat breakfast in the morning or do not have a breakfast that contains all the essential vitamins, nutrients and minerals that the body and the brain in particular need to function at its optimal level.
This is in stark contrast to their peers from affluent backgrounds many of whom have access to good nutrition in the mornings.
Therefore in order to ensure that children from all backgrounds have access to good nutrition; government must take steps to ensure that healthy food is available to ALL children by making it affordable –a call perhaps to expand the school feeding programme whilst at the same time improving the quality of food that is being served our children.
Another reason why more than 50% of children failed their BECE is the fault of the parents. It seems that parents especially those from dis-advantaged backgrounds do not care about the educational welfare of their children. This is highlighted by them not going to PTA meetings, helping the child with its homework and encouraging it to take its studies seriously.
Parents as a whole but especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds must realize that a good education is key to the child attaining a better quality of life in the future. Thus they should encourage their children to seriously pay attention to their education.
Fundamentally as a nation we need to find holistic solutions to improve the state education system where the majority of children go to if we are to ensure that more children pass rather than fail the BECE.
After all the children of today will be the leaders of tomorrow so it is imperative for any nation building exercise that the government invests wholesale in the state school system not just building more up to date classroom blocks but by providing the adequate resources necessary, to improve the quality of teachers that teach in state schools and have a re-think of the curricula to make it up to date to as to fit our cultural, social and technological environment.