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04.03.2006 Education

Democracy depends on good educational system


Accra, March 4, GNA - Professor J. Anamuah-Mensah, Vice Chancellor, University of Education, Winneba on Saturday, said the current educational systems does not respond to the country's needs as, "It turns out citizens who are not patriotic and do not know their civic roles and responsibilities".

He explained that the educational system focused on non-participatory learning and encourages rote memorisation, recall and individualism, which did not auger well for the nurturing of good governance.

Prof. Anamuah-Mensah was speaking at a three-day workshop on civic education for 20 second-cycle institutions in the Southern Sector of the country organised by the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) in collaboration with the Centre for Civic Education in the United States of America and CIVITAS Ghana.

The workshop dubbed, "Project Citizen, Ghana," was aimed at promoting and championing civic education studies and educating the youth to understand the fundamental values and principles of constitutional democracy.

Prof Anamuah-Mensah said participatory democracy would be meaningful only if the people especially students were equipped to engage in cooperative learning, create their own understanding, encourage critically thinking through problems and offering solutions and exposed to responsible citizenship.

He urged educational authorities to implement the Presidential Committee on Educational Reform's recommendations, which proposed three philosophical elements dealing with nationalism and citizenship, promotion of analytic, creative, critical and problem-solving skills and democracy.

The educational system must infuse citizenship, sense of national pride and identity, individual rights and responsibilities to promote national integration and unity as well as democratic values that foster a sense of commitment to national development, he said.

The Vice Chancellor said education should help individuals to develop inquiring minds, ability to innovate and adapt and the capacity to apply knowledge and skills acquired to solve problems.

"The school system should serve as a training ground for producing citizens who will cherish and embrace democratic values. These values should reflect the spirit of tolerance of other people's views, dialogue, negotiation, compromise and freedom of expression," he stated.

Prof Anamuah-Mensah commended the NCCE and the Centre for Education of the United States of America for initiating the Project Citizen, Ghana, which had the same philosophical orientation as the Commission and would serve as a vehicle for achieving a shift in the educational system to promote multi-party democracy.

Mr Douglas Philips, a Senior Consultant of the Centre for Civic Education, explained that Project Citizen was aimed at motivating young people to understand the rights and responsibilities of citizenship; empower the youth as active citizens by developing their skills of enquiry, communication, participation and responsible action.

This should be done as a formal or informal part of their citizenship education through community-based projects to develop the knowledge and skills required for effective citizenship and democratic governance in students.

"Students would learn how to express their ideas, decide, which level of government, district or national and agency is most appropriate for dealing with problems they identify and how to monitor and influence public policy decisions at that level.

"Students therefore learn the methods and procedures used in our political process," Mr Philips stated.

Mrs Fanny Judith Kumah, Project Citizens, Ghana Co-ordinator, explained that students work cooperatively with each other and with teachers and adult volunteers to identify a problem to study, gather information, examine information, examine solutions, develop public policy positions and create action plans.

The results of are presented in the form of a portfolio to other classes or community for assessment.

She said the concept would be introduced into the social studies curriculum to make students more informed about their civic responsibilities and the need to participate in local and national governance.

Mrs Kumah who is a Director at the NCCE, said Ghana's democratic development and growth depended on effective participation by all citizens to be sustained.

She encouraged students, teachers and political stakeholders to get involved in the Project.

The participants mainly Social Studies Teachers, Patrons of Civic Education Clubs, Civic Education Activists and staff of the NCCE were awarded certificate of participation, which was presented by Mr Larry Bimi, NCCE Chairman.