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Letter | Feb 4, 2019

Petition To Education Minister NAPO!

By Alhassan Lukman
Petition To Education Minister NAPO!

Dear Minister Of Education Hon. Dr. Mathew Opoku-Prempeh,

Dr. Opoku-Prempeh, as you are already aware, our country is in the shackles of high unemployment and debt crisis. I will present in this memo to you the details of the causes that we are aware of and I will also give my opinion about what we should do. The problem of high unemployment and the proliferation of Ghana’s foreign debt have crippled the development of the country thus resulting in extreme poverty. These symbiotic cankers, however, have evolved from of old since the independence of Ghana transitionally flaming through political administrations till now.

It is in my opinion that the Ghana education system is responsible for the aforementioned challenges as its mode is much focused on the 'what' and not the 'how to'. A recent report on Ghana's Human Capital Index (HCI) by the World Bank reveals that 56 percent of Ghana's Human Capital will go waste in the next 18 years because of the poor quality of its education system and only 44 percent of children born in Ghana will become productive when they grow. Over the years critics of the education system have expressed their views and concerns on how it has fallen short on its purpose yet the old inherited British system prevails.

Notably, Anis Haffar an Educationist in an interview on JoyNews demystified the lameness of the education system. He urged that it's high time Ghana developed curriculum reform to expose students to a more practical and research-oriented environment rather than having them read the practicals on board and in textbooks. It is in the light that even university students in the country hardly can invent technologically nor cause an innovation that is geared towards development nationwide or internationally.

In Ghana it is obvious that the informal sector which constitutes is the roadside carpenter or mechanic, the mammoth illiterates and school dropped outs in agriculture through their efforts communicate better with the country's societal and economic development. I plead for you to humbly compare that with the school system which confines students in a classroom feeding them with theories and discoveries of the developed nations. The worst part of the education curriculum is it an infestation of pain into students about the detriment slavery caused us but has failed to teach students strategies of reviving just as America did.

Dr. Opoku-Prempeh, the theoretical nature of our education system accounts for our over dependency on foreign processed goods because students and graduates lack critical thoughts to establish and manage production firms. Besides, those with that tend to lack government's support to expand.

Attesting to this fact, Ghana remains a raw commodity producer because we over-rely on foreign production so much that we forget to explore what we have at hand and that makes it fall short in making huge benefits from its international political economic relations with especially the developed worlds. Reflecting on the canker of the education style, our cultural heritage is diminishing due to the influence of Western production.

Also, we remain feeble for exploitation, especially to the Chinese. All these is because we lack experimental knowledge to drive such. It is disheartening seeing our graduates crying out loud for jobs when our resources are being transformed into our midst by foreign investors into lucrative materials.

Right from the grassroots, I can testify that that is where the problem starts. Primary and Junior high students learn subjects which to me are less relevant compared with such which could directly address our pressing development obstacles. Previously, the country's score of excellence from the World Bank appraisal on education was, I guess, not on its translation into production for economic growth. Quality of education as you know is judged from its implementation and not just its acquisition and dissemination.

Araba Botchway, a Director of Admissions and Financial Aid of Asheshi university also expressed her displeasure about the education system and suggested that it's high time we transformed our courses to address communities needs. How our curriculum translates into causing unemployment is that it does not encourage thinking outside the box for new discoveries.

Students are poisoned to do root learning since their intelligence is measured on how best they can memorize. Many SHS graduates do not get on to colleges and universities due to the so-called 'poor grades' though they are practically skillful and talented whom afterward explore their skills strategically helping communities through their menial jobs. The problem, in brief, is that our education mode teaches us facts instead of concepts.

In Ghana, almost every sector be it nursing, teaching, politics, law, or engineering suffers the infection of the root learning or the 'chew and pour' syndrome. In finding solutions to that, let us imagine health students, based on education given to them, could collaborate in research and discussion to make use of our plants in treatment, let's imagine trained teachers could extend teaching outside the classroom. Also let's imagine social and political science students were tested based on their quota on set tasks such as eradicating gender disparities in our societies, reporting and advocating against unlawful acts etc. in the country.

Interestingly at the SHS level, I believe the newly adopted education strategy thus the double truck system, which so far has mixed reactions could help solve a bigger part of the challenges of unproductive education. Practical oriented topics not only in the sciences or technical but in all courses could be vividly treated not just in the classroom but through an approach known as fieldwork or studies.

That would enlighten and strengthen them with experience in their field of studies before getting to the job market so that they do not wonder on their purpose. Besides, practical studies entail audio-visuals and that help students retain what is demonstrated better than what they only hear without seeing. To achieve excellence through the Double-track system, while the gold track is receiving classroom teaching, the green track is going through practical field studies and the other way round.

Not on grounds of politics, I thank His Excellency Nana Addo's government for its commitment to get jobless graduates on board through the NABCO system but the reality lies in the efficiency of the program. The highlighted question here is if these unemployed graduates do not deliver up to expectations in production and invention and innovation will our debt stock reduce or borrowing stop? On the more serious note, if it doesn't stop would we cease to face the conditionalities of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or the World Bank?

Paraphrasing the statement of Barack Obama whiles delivering state of the nation(US) address he stated that democracy excels in a strong economize country. That means the excellence of the other dimensions of life depends on the wellbeing of our economy. Ghana is characterised by poverty just as many African countries qualifying us as "poverty in the midst of wealth". Africa could be way beyond where we are now in terms of development if after our enslavement we had rechanneled our inherited education system so that students understand the worth and opportunities with our minerals and commodities.

In comparison, the world has received appreciative science and technological advancement through the effort of Europe, America, and Asia. As a result, production, communication, and transportation, and Healthcare are at the peak. This signifies that those regions have different education curricula from us aiding them in advance thoughts increasing our reliance on the 'fruit' of their studies. Besides, their mode of studies has a place for the less privileged as a result, school dropouts. Albert Einstein a Germany/US scientist who discovered Theory of Relativity, Isaac Newton a British mathematician and scientist and Bill Gates who invented Microsoft were all school dropouts but per the nature of education they had previously, are positively driving the world today through their achievements.

In comparison, let's generally consider the situation of a school dropout in Ghana; for such person, it means starting a new life to success because the education previously acquired cannot guarantee that therefore, rendering such persons frustrated compelling some into deviant acts for survival or in drug addiction.

At the tertiary level, for example, there should be a connection between and among universities students through a proposed body know as Ghana Universities Interconnectedness for Development and Experimentation_GUIDE so that students can link up ideas into solving problems and causing inventions. For example, the theme for a connection can be UDS-UCC students collaboration on fighting gender inequalities in Ghanaian societies or KNUST-UG students collaboration on inventing the machine for easy cocoa seeds planting.

I strongly believe we have every resource to aid that as every Ghanaian president stresses on the vast quantity of our natural resources. Why not the government open up these resources to students for studies under effective regulation rather than regulating them beyond our reach in wait for foreign exploitation. If our curricula right from primary to the universities are centered upon our resources and how to develop them to develop us then we will only be a stone throw away from paying off our awaiting 'gigantic' foreign debt.

Aside from the lameness of the education system, there is a bigger lesson to address after our curricula reform. Students' discoveries should receive government attention and support. Historically, British emanated the first phase of the industrial revolution in the 1700s through their inventions of the cotton spinning Jenny and steam power which helped them to outrun the dutches and later the Indians in cotton textile production. It is a blessing on our side that Ghana too has had Kantanka through whom I see the victory of the country in technological advancement and in Agricultural production. The government should collaborate with Kantanka so that students can derive many benefits from his firm through observation and symposiums organised with him.

In closing, Hon. Dr. Opoku-Prempeh, this will be a giant relief for having an education system which will put power in the hands of students of Ghana in terms of production so that the nation can make headway to addressing our escalating debt. As students, we will also develop and stay focused in advanced thoughts so that we wouldn't have to solely depend on government for jobs. However, our failure to do as proposed in this petition means suffocating the dreams of us students to develop in line with modernity.

Yours truly,

Alhassan Lukman

University for Development Studies

BA in Development Education

Level 300

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