Education has evolved through diverse philosophical eyes as centuries and decades are born —and gradually die out. In my own percipience, education can be defined as, “socialising people in an environment to develop their cognitive, and equipping them with the requisites knowledge to become more adaptable and informed, to aid their own personal enhancement in terms of attitude, and behaviourial concerns as well as their immediate enivornment, and the broader community”. It has thus revolved itself to place a paramount prominence in the socio-politico—economic and cultural development of both developed and developing societies. Clearly, no progressively inspired nation on this sole planet of living (earth) can run the race of development without the boots of education on feet.
Education goes with a lot of systems and factors as well it challenges. In Africa and Ghana for that matter, education has been with the people for time immemorial— thus the informal type. However, the people on this continent got hold of our present education— formal type, through various interactions with their colonial masters. Ghana on one hand, had her taste of what formal education meant through her formal colonial master, ‘The British’. The British government during the colonial era, laid down certain systems through which education which begun in the castles in the Gold Coast (now Ghana) should follow. This system produced numerous local elites who in one way or the other helped to later gain independence for this country.
With this nation gaining independence on 6th March 1957, the Nkrumah government under the leadership of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the First President of Ghana, made a lot of educational reforms from that angle. The Nkrumah government in order to foster education in a newly independent country, brought in certain reforms which sought to purge out certain anomalies which the colonial educational system came along with. The Nkrumah government in the 1960’s provided free education, free school uniforms, free textbooks, and the provision of other basic educational infrastructural facilities as evident in universities, colleges, secondary and basic education as part of it reforms. The same can be written in the cases of, the Acheampong’s government, the Rawlings’ government and so on. All these reforms were in view to help better enhance the educational prospect of this nation.
Several years down lane, with many governments rolling in and out, our Ghanaian educational system still faces a lot of challenges, thus placing a lot of hindrances in terms of meeting it positive prospects. The major reforms in our educational system can be dated to the1990’s when the Basic Education Certificate and the West Africa Secondary School Certificate Examinations were introduced under the Presidency of J. J. Rawlings. These reforms brought in it wake new syllabus, and ushered in a cut in the duration (years) of education to three years for both Junior and Senior Secondary education. This educational system was however, fraughted with a lot of challenges as in terms of the percentage passes in the external examinations. These challenges could partly be attributed to inadequate professionally trained teachers, teaching and learning materials as well as other necessities. In 2007, the government of Ghana under the stewardship of President J. A Kuffour made some reforms in the educational system citing various reasons for doing so. There was the introduction of a new syllabus as well, a change of name from the previous government’s to Junior and Senior High Schools with three and four years of learning duration respectively and later years, got another change to the former by President Mills’ government, also indicating various reasons. All these were done with intents to improve the country’s educational system into one which could solve the problems at hand.
It is however sad to note that all these reforms having been made, have not holistically and wholly done any thing worthy enough to better the lot of this country’s education. What is worrisome and vexatious about Ghana’s education has to deal with the huge number of failures that comes with it— that is, failures as in candidates failing their final external examinations, thus unable to get admissions into either Senior High/Technical Schools or Tertiary Institutions depending on ones level of transition. The rate at which students fall victim to this situation has become chronic and cancerous. The situation has risen from worse, worst and now at supposedly an ‘uncurable’ one for that matter. Various interventions have been made and are still been made, yet this high failing rate of students in both Junior and Senior High Schools in Ghana has become a cumbersome mathematical problem with no solution.
As a graduate of this same system in 2013 of Senior High School, I feel it is important that a matter so cogent like this and been discussed all over in Ghana in both print and electronic media by people who ‘presumably’ think have solutions to salvaging it, I add my naive thoughts as well. Whether we would continually swim in decades of crude reforms or make cupboard inferences of changes construed to our educational system I think would amount to nothing less than what we are already facing. Genuinely, it would be very prudent for the various time leaderships of this country to distant politicking from our education. Education is an all involvement methodologies and must be deemed apolitical. This is the first thing which adversely impinges on the prospects of our nation’s education system and must be eschewed as such. Plunging this nation’s educational soft-underbellies into ‘cheap’ political gimmicks only has the potency of worsening the circumstances we are already facing.
Again, sound educational research worth making to identify, accommodate and finding lasting solutions to the problems militating against the prospects of our educational system in terms of the high failing rate of students must be conducted. The government and the various bodies in charge of our educational system such as the Ministry of Education, the Ghana Education Service and the likes must be actively involved in this, and the needed impetus given to researchers when demanded. This I perceive will help logically and critically identify the real bottle-necks weighing us down and find realistic modalities of finding root solutions to the root causes.
Teachers on one hand do complain bitterly about the insensitiveness of our governments, all because salaries and conditions of services are below their work rate. In Ghana, from all indications without an iota of doubt, the teaching profession is the least respected and cherished. Conditions of service in this profession is so poor to the extent that it instantly demoralises the spirits of teachers. Some teachers have to make sacrifices without any reasonable compensation from the government. Those in charge of this situation must make deliberate efforts to solve this situation for, “we do not use an empty stomach to blow the horn of a cow”, thus says an Akan traditional proverb. The government must also do well to provide all the needed teaching and learning materials. The teachers must also endeavour to put in much effort and not lazy around idly to teach students to the very best of each learner’s learning ability.
Parents play key roles in the academic development of the learner. Most parents due to pressures of life and high economic burdens become reluctant in supervising the progress of their ward(s) education. Hardly would a parent even go to the school in which their ward(s) attend to assess their performances, and when the unfortunate should happen im terms of fails, they kick it to the faces of the teachers. Parents must however, avert their attitude towards their childrens education and also provide them with the basic necessities which can compliment their education. The needed moral support must also be given to students by both parents and teachers.
Pragmatically, most students themselves are their own woes. They refuse to attend classes, participate in various classroom exercises and do what so pleases them. Most of them get hold of the wind of peer influence. Although, there might be certain challenges, they must not let these challenges clamp them. Students on the other side of the sheet, must also be reminded of the need to take their learning and education seriously. They must do all is worthy to be more assiduous bearing in mind the price one must pay to be successful in life. Attending classes regularly and committing themselves to whatever the teachers teach them would also help to reduce the ‘run-away’ rate of failures in our educational circles.
Nana Arhin Tsiwah
(The Village Thinker)