Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, one of Africa’s illustrious sons, and South Africa’s first Post Apartheid President, once said: “Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the son of a mine worker can become the head of the mine, that a child of the farm worker can become the president of a great nation. It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given that separates one from another”. This statement may, on the surface, appear to be a mere set of words but in reality, and upon further cogitation, one would realise that it means much more than the set of words that it is. That is the fact that so many Ghanaians ought to be made to know and understand. These words should be preached, frequently to the slumbering to awaken them and remind them of the miracle working stuff that education is made of. Those whose guard is down can also rethink and get back on track because they would be reminded by the set of words that education is not just for fun but reserves an indispensable purpose for the human race. We must tighten our resolve to make educational progress in a manner that nothing is capable of distracting lest we remain in desperate need of life support to enable our survival.
Many a time, when power changed hands and fresh governments from political opponents of the previous government take charge of our country’s affairs, we often receive word of politically motivated adjustments at the helm of affairs of the public and civil services and in some cases, the forces. This has become a familiar refrain that accompanies change of government in our part of the world. Anyway, some of us have always doubted the relevance of such changes in our quest to emerge from all sorts of untold hardships and developmental stagnation that enable us achieve success. Nonetheless, self indulging politicians have never bothered about our feelings or hopes. All they care about is political equalization and collusion for selfish gains. One would think that this act of political vindictiveness is only limited to the top hierarchy of various sectors including our very beloved education sector but nay. It has extended to the grassroots. The level of degeneration of political equalization, victimization and partisanship has peaked far too much for a developing country such as Ghana. How come? The situation has really become so bad that development is truncated in some areas as a result of extreme partisanship issues. There are so many instances but we should not be witnessing such situations in the 21st Century. How come that extreme partisanship has so much absorbed the rank and file of the nation to this devastating effect? It is an utter shame!
In January, 2018, a certain MP in the Ashanti region who had won elections in 2016 was back at a community in his constituency to thank them for re-electing him to the country’s House of Laws to represent them as well as endorsing his political party for the reigns of the nation. The chief of the host community who was visibly appalled at the MPs inability to fulfil a campaign promise of supplying roofing sheets to his community for the completion of a school block the community had put up with their own resources mustered courage and entreated his community inhabitants and members to eschew partisanship and end their hope in receiving any form of assistance from political leaders. He further encouraged them, right in the presence of the MP who is also a Minister, to come together in unity, put their act together and forge ahead via self mobilization activities and programmes in their pursuit for development. It was indeed a mature and great submission from the chief who was promptly and viciously castigated by the MP and his entourage which included the DCE of that District. They went ahead to tell vile lies, in an attempt to escape the embarrassment, by claiming to have invited the Community’s Chairman of the ruling party to come over to the District Assembly to pick up the roofing sheets but that he failed to show up. Though the chairman in question was present at the same gathering, he was neither called upon to speak nor did he also make any attempt to confirm or dismiss the claims. Indeed, I was very disappointed that the party chairman, a member of the community, himself, did little to salvage his community’s cause. He rather allowed his allegiance to his political party to override a just cause due to extreme partisanship. He would later admit to me and a few other colleagues that indeed, the Minister and his entourage lied when they said the roofing sheets were delivered for collection and all of it. Again, in the midst of all the brouhaha involving the chief of the community and the MP’s entourage, some members of the community who were identified to be members of the MP’s party, were seen clearly supporting and cheering the MP’s entourage on to unleash vile words on their chief who was fighting a cause that could turn around their fortunes forever and for the better. That is a huge disappointment. Extreme partisanship laden meeting coupled with extreme ignorance clearly caused those people to behave the way they did. Our country will struggle to move forward if DCEs and MPs do not stop bamboozling and manipulating the citizenry for political gains. To date, the community is yet to receive those items from the MP in question even though he continues to keep his place as a minister of state. Posterity shall remain our judge.
It looks like the sickening level of ignorance of the masses in the country has played to the advantage of the politician who continually divides the masses on political lines and ensures that they never get the opportunity to recover from the ignorance. A certain DCE recently resorted to such divisionary tactics to shirk responsibility and abandon his duty of ensuring that a certain community’s chance of contributing to the realization of sustainable development goal (SDG) 4 remained bleak. How? The school in the community in question had its roof removed by the rains. So, the Headteacher of the school who coincidentally doubled as the Assembly Member of the Community wrote to the DCE to come to the aid of the school. He subsequently followed up to the DCE’s office and the NADMO Coordinator’s office in his efforts to lend some support for the school. His visit could however, not change the situation so later members of his school’s PTA and SMC sent a delegation of, largely, the ruling party sympathisers to the DCE as a follow up on the matter but they were told by the DCE that the Headteacher never contacted him on the said matter and that if he had even made the attempt he would not have been given any attention. What? The Assembly Member of the Electoral Area would not be given attention? Well, that is Ghana’s political terrain for you; very dirty. I looked into the matter and noticed that, the DCE, who was a colleague (Assembly Member) to the Headteacher in question prior to his appointment to the position, is being politically expedient and extremely partisan in the sense that, he is seeking to tarnish the image of his former colleague because they do not belong to the same political party, and since it is an Assembly Election year, he aims to disarm the area’s Assembly Member and render him ineffective in the eyes of his electorates, just in case he decides to stand for re-election. Unfortunate! So this DCE who is supposed to know better never, for a moment, thought about the poor kids who were forced to stay at home because their classrooms were roofless? The school is still without a roof, as I speak, and the KG and Class 1&2 pupils are now using church premises within the community as classrooms. Is this what the electorates voted for? Exemplifies saboteurs and/or heartlessness? No less a person than the whole DCE, engaging in such act of extreme partisanship without even blinking an eye or thinking twice? What pettiness! Despicable, to say the least! Lord have mercy on us else we die of extreme partisanship!
This reminds me of a similar situation elsewhere. The state of this community is so deplorable to the extent that a certain District Director of Education, when he was brought to the community for a Child Labour Day Programme, failed to hide his dismay at the lack of development of the community, by admitting, and was caught inadvertently on microphone, that the place did not deserve a school. No vehicles go to the community because their roads are utterly poor. I cannot find appropriate words to describe how come a community could be cut off from other places in terms of social development. Yes, I know, the place, school aside, lacks all other social amenities. However, the inhabitants of the place were once refusing to support a move by their Headteacher who also was an Assembly Member, to establish a JHS in the community and to save their own children the burden of walking over four kilometres of every day to the nearest community to attend school. Their reason was that, the Headteacher who due to his political lineage kicked against a move by some community members opposed to his political party, to prevent a certain family from registering for Voter’s ID card because they claimed that family was from Togo. The matter dragged on and eventually landed in court and those who were preventing the family from exercising their legitimate right ended up losing the case and got fined. They therefore resorted to extreme partisanship in almost all their dealings with that Headteacher including educational issues and that was ill informed and detrimental to the progress of the community. Today, that Headteacher has moved on but, two years on, the community still lacks a JHS and most of the children drop out of school after primary school while the few of them who decide to pursue education at the JHS level walk over four kilometres each day to attend school. Is this witchcraft or wickedness? Extreme partisanship will set this country ablaze one day.
You see, when you get to know the massive havoc that partisanship has caused the educational sector alone, you will break down in tears. In a certain community, all the structures that house the school were coincidentally provided by a particular political party though at different points in their tenures. Later, I observed that, in spite of the school in the community doing very well, a good number of children still travelled to the next community, on foot, to attend public schools. I was quite confused about what the motivation and/or cause was only to find out from the grape vine that most of those children were prevented by their parents from enrolling in their community’s school simply because they felt the school belonged to the political party that built the school blocks with the taxpayers’ money. Look at how ignorance and extreme partisanship can punish people? These parents have virtually enslaved their children and condemned them to perpetual stress just because they long to come all out to demonstrate their inclination to a certain political party. In fact, for some of them, their allegiance to the party is even not recognised beyond the community they reside and operate in. Only God can save us now.
Obviously, political expediency and extreme partisanship are proving to be our bane these days. Most of the little acts of saboteurs motivated by political leanings aimed at scoring political points are all contributing to Ghana’s shambolic performance in the educational sector. In a recent report published by the World Bank Group on Human Capital Index, Ghana’s education system was said to be doing so abysmally to the extent that 56% of the country’s children is said to be at risk of being redundant and useless to the country’s economy in the next 18 years. The country’s HCI of 44% actually beats the average of 40% pulled by sub-Saharan Africa but is still below the 48% average of middle income countries where Ghana belongs. In the ranking of performance of basic and secondary education systems via harmonised test scores, Ghana only managed to beat Niger in the rankings with the test score of 307 falling way below the average of 391. It is worthy of note that all these pieces of information paint a picture of the poor performance of the educational system of the country. Partisanship should have no place, whatsoever, in education related matters and each one of us must eschew partisanship in these matters for our own good. It is important to take immediate steps towards streamlining the sector to rid it of unnecessary power play and extreme partisanship. Sanity and sanctity must prevail now!
David Angangmwin Baganiah