Education is a lifelong process. No one ever finishes learning, however long we may live. We learn and acquire new knowledge with each passing day. Everyone wants to receive one form of education be it formal or informal. It fills me with joy whenever I encounter people who are filled with the zeal and passion to acquire more knowledge and not boast about the little they know. Ignorance is a disease, in any case and so, no one wants to be considered as such. Education is supposed to enlighten us.
Education in totality involves transferring knowledge in the form of experiences, ideas, skills, customs, and values, from a person to another or from generations to the next. For this reason, education is not necessarily as formal as we think it is. It is in truth, very informal. Whenever we learn something new, we receive an education. Acquiring knowledge should ultimately lead to a transformation of life.
Within the last few decades, formal education has been well-received within this country. The number of people making entry into our junior and senior high schools, and other vocational training institutions has seen remarkable improvement. The demand for our tertiary institutions has been overwhelming. Subsequently, more tertiary institutions, mainly private have been established and so each year, tens of thousands of students gain admission into, and graduate out, of our tertiary institutions.
Surprisingly however, and rather disappointingly, a greater majority of these invaluable resources are not being absorbed into our local markets. Jobs are not available! Those who however, find jobs are not doing more for this country! Their individual contribution to the growth of this country questions the essence of formal education. The informal sector gave a more practical approach to life through the sharing of ideas, experiences, values, beliefs, norms and in totality, culture. A lot of people are sitting at home after undergoing several years of formal education.
There are general concerns people have raised in the past in line with formal education in Ghana. Is formal education making any significant impact on this nation? Are students in Ghana merely passing through our educational institutions? How are they impacting our society? Several people have received all forms of formal education, but how educated are they? Their general attitudes and behaviours speak otherwise. Clearly, people are going to school but not showing any visible signs of that? For some, it is just a fashion; everyone is receiving some form of formal training! What impact has formal education had on your life, if any? It is common to hear a seemingly uneducated or less-educated or learned person make remarks of how they expect more from the so-called formally educated person. That is a common utterance since in some cases, the behavior of some educated people leaves more to be desired. It is usually questionable! If you are educated, how educated are you?
Formal education has brought some negative transformations in our socio-cultural life. Our norms, values, beliefs, language and culture in totality, are waning. The general attitude of the so-called educated in this nation of ours indeed, questions the essence or rationale behind formal education. Some people after going through some formal education return without any appreciation for our cultural values and social norms. Students return home pompous, rude, undisciplined, lazy, lacking any principles and most importantly, lacking the very skills and knowledge for which they ventured into the formal educational environment. Considering the indiscipline in some of our tertiary institutions and perhaps, second cycled institutions, the moral integrity of formal education is questionable.
A critical assessment of our Ghanaian society today speaks volumes. Our underdevelopment, corruption, overdependence, among others, is an attestation! Rather disappointingly, the formal system of education seems to have only succeeded in creating liabilities for this nation! The issues of embezzlement, bribery and corruption, misappropriation, among others are all associated with it. More book-related crimes are occurring! Formal education is teaching people easy ways of committing crimes! Crimes are being committed and being conveniently covered up in the name of documentation and law-law! In the name of globalization, civilization, democracy, modernization, chaos is being endorsed and accepted as a human right entitlement. Moral integrity, as clearly underlined in the informal system of education has been replaced with corruption!
Our educational structure in itself has failed! It does not place much emphasis on practical knowledge or skill acquisition. It is only chew, pass and forget! Formal education in Ghana is more theoretical rather than practical. For this reason, students after leaving the classrooms usually face challenges on the job when faced with practical issues. In most cases, getting placement for industrial training, as usually done by students in our tertiary institutions, for most people, is a great headache. The number of institutions is woefully inadequate to absorb the large numbers. The few that are available are usually reluctant in accepting these students on attachment. As a result, a lot of Ghanaian students spend their entire period of formal education, in the classroom. They come out without any appreciation for the practical. They are only book-worms and hence, perform badly on the actual field. Students pass for examinations, and fail in life!
Indeed, for formal education to be meaningful, it must impact the lives of people positively socio-economically. Formal education in Ghana has not been specifically rebranded for our country. The programmes being offered in most institutions especially tertiary, has no bearings on the demands of this nation. People are not being trained to solve the problems in our society. People are taking up programmes that have no job prospects within this nation. Ironically however, we are training people for the international markets!
This country can boast of people of all qualifications and attestations but sadly, they have either never made use of this knowledge or when used, have not been to the best of their abilities. These qualifications sit at the bottoms of trunks, on the shelves or showcases in rooms, hanging on walls and yet, have no physical proof. It is only written but not applicable! Each day, foreigners come in and take up jobs that we should be proudly in charge of. The country can boast of professors, professor emeritus, doctorates, masters, bachelors, technicians, great scholars who are only acclaimed for their written literature but cannot be held liable for any other. We have all kinds of skilled men and women who are not putting their skills to bear. For these reasons, the country suffers! Huge sums of monies are being paid out to others for jobs that should have been well-executed by the locals. Our technical men and women are failing to be technical. This country has several technocrats and yet, our manufacturing and construction industries suffer. There are several capable minds who cannot take any initiatives. They can only boast of their qualifications!
What role has the Ghanaian technocrat played towards the development of this nation? The Ghanaian technocrats should be able to resolve the increasing economic problems within the nation. Our technocrats should be solving the problems of unemployment by creating jobs for themselves and others! Create jobs if you cannot find one! In the areas of manufacturing and construction, our technocrats should be out there, at work for the development of the nation! Our local entrepreneurs should be competitive not only locally, but internationally. We ought not to be over-reliant on foreign aid before we take charge of our nation.
Ghana is failing because her technocrats are failing to put their talents and resources to use. We are so over dependent to the extent that we do not even want to use our brains and hence our educational structures have been made to suit international markets and not our local markets. We are producing a human resource base for other markets other than ours. As usually, we are training people to develop foreign economies. Typically with the oil-find, Ghana has not been able to train enough indigenes to work independently in our oil fields. Consequently, foreigners are being paid to tap our resources. We always wait for others to tell us what to do. The economy suffers and yet, this country has several renowned economists, who are failing to make things better. This country has several engineers and technicians, who are failing to build this country. In the field of the health sciences, this country has several renowned minds that are rather making it huge in the international front and yet, our health keeps failing us each day.
Our so-called educated rather prefer to boast but cannot prove it. As the popular American saying goes, 'Talk is cheap!' Let us stop talking and do something! Stop rapping and do something! The Ghanaian loves to talk! Internationally, various countries have been acclaimed for the invaluable contributions globally. How much has the Ghanaian technocrat contributed? Apart from our invaluable natural resources or mineral wealth, what contributions has Ghana made in terms of human resources, on a global scale? Football or boxing perhaps?
Informal education has had significant impacts on the lives of this nation and its people. Our social values, norms, ideals, customs, beliefs, among others have been transmitted from generation to generation. Formal education has rather disappointingly made not much impact. Formal education was designed to bridge all barriers and equip us with the knowledge and relevant skills that would enhance gross and rapid socio-economic development within and beyond this country and continent of ours. Most Ghanaians consider this nation to be developing because around them, they can see on-going projects, have access to utilities, education, and health, among others. Some Ghanaians also call themselves well educated because they can speak big English and write big grammar. Others have also been decorated with several certificates, honours and qualifications but in the school of life, it has no meaning! Are you any from the one who never stepped foot into a classroom?
Ghana is still lurking behind because her indigenes cannot find a lasting solution to the problems of health, transportation, education, potable water, energy, employment, sanitation, infrastructure and even allocation of resources! What has the Ghanaian technocrat done for this nation? How far has the Ghanaian technocrat gone? It is a well known fact that some people without formal education are making it whiles those with formal education suffer to make ends meet. Why formal education? Why should Ghana invest in formal education and yet reap no benefit?
Anna Esi Hanson ([email protected]), Takoradi.