His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo (the President of Ghana; congrats to him on his election) during his first state of the nation address to Parliament, touched on the economy, education, health and energy among others. As a productivity expert who has authored over 13 books and more than 50 articles on the subject of ‘Education & Productivity’ and has had several media appearances on the subject matter, I was particularly excited to note that our president hinged the expected success of the government’s plans on the ability to educate the young people, and provide opportunity for lifelong education to the adult population; noting that education is the key. We are united in this conviction that, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world;” in the words of Nelson Mandela. However, something the president said soon after that, gave me (and still gives me) the heebie-jeebies!
The president said: “My government shall place teachers at the centre of quality education, and encourage professionalism among them.” I am a ‘teacher’ by calling, my dad and all my four siblings are professional teachers, but this statement of the president gives me a lot of concern; however encouraging as it sounds. My reason is very simple and can be summed up as follows…
|If someone is not willing to learn, no one (and certainly no teacher) can teach him/her. On the other hand, if the person is determined to learn, no one can stop him/her!|
The point is that, we should rather be putting the students and pupils at the centre of quality education, and sow the desire and passion to learn/research, in them; if we ever want to be successful at achieving a truly quality education.
Let Us Reflect Some More!
First of all, we need to be clear on what we mean by quality education, and the purpose of that quality education; if what I have gleaned from officialdom so far is anything to go by, then I am afraid what we seem to seek to do is like ‘trying to solve a hunger problem by taking in authentic paracetamol!’
In my earlier article that was published in the Daily Graphic Newspaper: Fixing Our Education; A Delightful Paradigm, I did a very clear and deep analytical examination and diagnosis of what the real problem with our education happens to be; beyond what is usually assumed and further indicated that, “We can readily cite laziness, lack of creativity, greed and corruption or disregard for laws/regulations, etc., as the causes of our woes, but the greatest cause (and indeed, the root cause) is the prevailing formal education (call it ‘partial education’); it is such that, even when we are able to put in place (i) good and adequate infrastructure across the country, (ii) adequate supply of the selected teaching/learning materials/resources, (iii) adequate remuneration for teachers/educators and supervisors, and (iv) effective supervision at all the levels (and we must) such a system would still be harnessing just about 20 percent of the genius inside people. And that resulting calibre of manpower may still not be able to solve our developmental problems to any considerable extent.” And that, “It is important to additionally overhaul the curriculum, and the teaching/learning methods; with the objective of harnessing the other almost 80 percent genius that usually remain untapped.” My position has not changed!
A Pandoras Box?
After 60 years of independence, what are we confronted with? Massive unemployment and underemployment, our ‘Debt-to-GDP’ ratio is very alarming and yet we still have huge infrastructure deficit, we have very little share in the abundant natural resources, the economy is heavily import-driven and consequently depreciating the local currency, price inflation is so huge, our environment is getting degraded the more, filth is all over, etc; even though we have a lot of people who have been to school extensively; some with PhDs, Masters Degrees, and other very good credentials, and are in charge at various levels. Besides, we are a highly religious people; we worship God a lot, and we pray a lot.
It is estimated that some 65% of children entering primary schools today will likely work in roles that don’t currently exist. According to a study by McKinsey Global Institute, many activities that workers carry out today could be automated. Indeed, the report estimates that nearly half of all the work we do (particularly current jobs) could be automated by the year 2055. And our citizens will be competing with foreigners for the few available jobs.
These are some of the challenges that a truly quality education should be addressing. And there is ample evidence to suggest that, success in achieving that worthwhile manpower (capable of meeting the said challenges) can be achieved more on the effort of learners/researchers (students and pupils) for which reason students and pupils must be the ones to be placed at the centre of quality education.
A Worker is Worthy of His Wages
The discussion is not to suggest that government should relent in taking care of teachers; no! Government must make teachers comfortable; by all means, and particularly take note of and incorporate the well acclaimed research findings of Frederick Herzberg. Notwithstanding, placing ‘teachers’ at the centre of quality education may not be such a great idea! The government should rather place students and pupils at the centre of quality education; if we truly want to see a significantly improved Ghana within a reasonable period.
The Full Remedy
What is the sure way of solving the problem?
Thankfully, the problem is not as difficult to solve as it seems, and adequate research and development has already been undertaken to bring out the sure remedy; you may click here to see.
In being a citizen (and not a passive spectator) what is immediately in my power is to keep researching and bringing such relevant issues to the fore, for the attention of those who care; trusting that each one of us will play our respective roles by taking the appropriate actions.
Long live Ghana!