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Insist on Your Right to Education

Uneducated citizenry is like a pitch any game can be played on it. Illiteracy is what has given the politicians in Ghana the chance to fool so many people for so a long a time.

Monday, September 14, 2009

3-year SHS is an absolute No-No!

In the main, the decision by the Atta-Mills government to retrench the duration of Ghana’s pre-university educational system will not change much substantively, curriculum-wise. For as this writer understands it, or actually has been made to understand by someone more expert at it, the current system makes the duration of Ghana’s pre-university education 13 years, which is a year more than the traditional 12-year duration that pertains to such advanced post-industrialized nations as the United States of America and Canada. The problem, thus, appears to be in regard to where the retrenchment exercise is to be effected.

For instance, here in the United States, the elementary school system spans the years from kindergarten to the 5th grade or Class 5. The middle school system, also called Junior High School (JHS), spans from the 6th to the 8th grade; while the Senior High School, or high school proper, runs from grades 9 through 12.

The problem pops up in the area of the awarding of Senior High School certificates or diplomas. For instance, a Ghanaian emigrant high school graduate to the United States, or any of the other advanced post-industrialized Western nations, for that matter, who decides to further her/his education in the newly-adopted country, is apt to be asked about the duration of our senior high school system before having his/her transcript and diploma evaluated for college admission. If during such enquiry process, the Ghanaian college applicant honestly lets on the fact of Ghana’s senior high school curriculum being of a 3-year duration, the automatic and, to be certain, logical presumption on the part of the American college admission officer would be to conclude (quite erroneously) that the Ghanaian high school system is essentially inferior to that of its American counterpart.

The likely outcome of the foregoing quite logical evaluation of the Ghanaian high school graduate, would be for the American college admission officer to promptly turn down the Ghanaian college applicant, coupled with the not quite uncharitable advice that the rejected Ghanaian college applicant enroll into an American high school in order to complete the remaining one year of “missed academic work.” The fact that all in all, the Ghanaian high school graduate spent an equal number of years in the pre-university educational system would not even come up. And if, per chance, it does come up, such comparison would make absolutely no difference at all, because it would still stand to reason that a high school curriculum that only takes three years to complete is, perforce, at least on the face of it, glaringly inferior to that of the United States, where the senior high school curriculum takes four years to complete.

Now, couple the preceding with the incontrovertible fact that Ghana being a Third-World country possesses relatively minimal resources in the form of educational funding, and the fate of the Ghanaian high school graduate, irrespective of individual academic preparation or intellectual prowess, is sealed.

Then there is also such stereotypical, if also not wholly irrelevant, evaluative aspects such as the fact of the English language not being native to the majority of Ghanaian high school graduates, regardless of how fluent or conversant a particular Ghanaian high school graduate, or even groups of high school graduates, may be with/in this official Ghanaian language of business, civic and academic discourse.

It is largely with the preceding observations in mind that we solemnly counsel those entrusted with Ghana’s educational policy to tread gingerly and cautiously. In essence, Ghana’s Minister of Education, Mr. Alex Tettey-Enyo, and his minions need to foresightedly recognize the very fact that ours is a global village in which landmark decisions taken even at the local level have profound and far-reaching consequences without their contextual confines.

In other words, our educators ought to be aiming at training future scholars, intellectuals, scientists and professionals who would be readily able to hold their own against their counterparts from other geographical locations around the globe. We see this rubric, or principle of engagement, being enacted and meticulously executed at the level of Ghana’s sporting industry, where the best trainers and coaches are frequently hired, irrespective of ethnicity, racial affiliation or nationality to groom the best and brightest of our nation’s sporting industry. It thus comes as both curious and bizarre that the same principle is not being applied to the intellectual, cultural and technological centers of our nation for maximum effect.

In a Ghana News Agency (GNA) report, Ghana’s Education minister, Mr. Tettey-Enyo, claims that the Atta-Mills cabinet has approved of the “reversal” (reversion?) of the duration of our Senior High School system from four to three years. And here, the National Democratic Congress’ government needs to be sternly cautioned about the fact that educational policy is not a sheer matter of political endgame. In brief, what needs to occur at this juncture is for the Atta-Mills government to refer this crucial matter to Parliament and, by extension, the Ghanaian public and electorate at large for the final decision to be made. Thankfully, the extortionate Nkrumaist and stratocratic eras, during which vital and crucial decisions were summarily reached by executive edicts, are effectively behind us.

Credit: Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe [Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., E-mail: okoampaahoofe@aol.com.

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