At a historic Speech & Prize Giving ceremony recently, a lot of issues related to education flooded my mind as I sat through the proceedings, and was inching up to deliver my address. Scenes from a press conference I addressed more than a year earlier, and high points from various media interviews I granted over the period, played in my mind; I wondered whether I had taken these Education & Productivity concerns too seriously. Well, I was concerned enough to have devoted several years researching on education and productivity factors, and have written more than 13 books and several articles on the subject matter; so I am ‘guilty as charged.’ And I am persuaded that we can fix our education! Here is how…
Proper diagnosis is key to a worthwhile prescription, so let us first get to appreciate the character and depth of the problem.
Analytical Examination and Diagnosis
Education is a noun for the process of ‘educing’ or ‘bringing out’ a person’s hidden potential. In its truest sense, the term ‘education’ has been derived from a couple of Latin words which basically mean: to nourish, to train or mould, and more deeply: ‘to lead out’, ‘to draw out’ or ‘to bring out‘ (as in bringing out something that is within). Functionally, the deep meaning, as in educing (or bringing out what is within) should be preferred any day! Anything other than that is partial education (or more of informing) and not true or full education.
Generally, every person has immense inborn potential; a genius within. Now, it is the process of ‘education ’ that will develop, ‘draw out,’ or ‘bring out ’ the genius within, and make the person extremely effective/productive (or truly great) as implied by the Latin words from which the term ‘education’ was derived. Ordinarily, this kind of education is beyond the scope of the formal education system; because largely, the traditional education curriculum has been designed to supply specific manpower to industry, and not necessarily ‘to bring out the genius that is within people.’ Nobel laureate Prof. Sir, William Arthur Lewis, for instance, has argued that, “What goes on inside the schools is often not education, and the result may well be that it reduces productive capacity rather than to increase it,” and he is right; “Education and schooling are not the same thing!” Indeed, a study carried out by Harvard University revealed that, the formal education system is able to harness/contribute just up to 22 percent of people’s true effectiveness and greatness in life. Studies done by other institutions like the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching yielded similar results. There is every reason to suspect that this percentage contribution is much lower in Ghana (and Africa). And what has that yielded; after some 60 years of independence? 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.
Prognosis and Prescription
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. 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.
Two Critical Steps
While taking steps 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, the government and all other stakeholders (including parents/guardians, religious leaders, professional teachers and other educators, policy makers, and the development partners) must immediately/urgently take the following two critical steps…
- Impress upon students and pupils (especially our own children/wards) to learn ‘How to Learn and Get the Most out of Write-Ups and Other Presentations.’
- Get students and pupils to know/appreciate the full spectrum of knowledge, skills, and Attitude they require for a truly productive and fulfilling life.
The importance of Learning ‘How to Learn’
The importance of Learning ‘How to Learn and Get the Most out of Write-Ups and Other Presentations’ is well captured in the admonition of Peter F Drucker (the world’s foremost management guru) that…”We now accept the fact that learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change, and the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn.“
You may click here to see more.
The Full Spectrum of What to Learn
As earlier intimated, the regular subjects / courses taught in the formal education system (per the current/standard curriculum; even if taught fully to perfection) are only capable of harnessing (or contributing to) 22 percent of people’s true effectiveness and greatness in life. Fortunately, there has been adequate research to identify and collate principles (the Zing4Life! principles) that can harness the other almost 80 percent genius that, ordinarily, the formal education system is not able to harness. For instance, a person can become extremely creative by simply following the 8-Step Creative Thinking Process; very powerful! Also, the rampant emotional difficulties that limit productivity (some even lead to suicides) could be avoided if people are aware of the amazingly simple and effective ways of dealing with emotions and preventing undue stress.
The full spectrum of the Zing4Life! principles have been collated into thirteen (13) thematic areas; you may click here to see the full array. We just have to implement them alongside the mainstream curricula. Thankfully, it takes less than 1 year of about 1 hour a day; it is very easy to implement, so…
- Government and the other stakeholders (including parents/guardians, religious leaders, professional teachers and other educators, policy makers, and the development partners) must endeavour to make these resources available to students and pupils (especially our own children/wards), or otherwise impress it upon them to acquire such additional knowledge; as co-curricular.
- Students and pupils (and all who desire to improve in their productivity) must make the effort to acquire and apply the principles so recommended.
Let me reiterate that, the Zing4Life! complementary / co-curricular education, if so implemented, will augment the formal education system for us to attain ‘Total Education;’ the kind that will truly develop, ‘draw out,’ or ‘bring out ’ the genius in people and thus yield the calibre of manpower that will be able to deal with our developmental problems adequately and delightfully.
Time for action
Together, we can make this redemption happen! Indeed, having discovered the remedy, posterity will judge us badly if we refuse to implement it. It starts with awareness creation and advocacy; so, talk to a stakeholder about this today, and at every opportunity.
Long live Seers! Long live Ghana!! Long live Africa!!!
NOTE: This article / post was originally written for Ghana’s biggest newspaper: Daily Graphic, as ‘Fixing Our Education; A Delightful Paradigm,’ and was published in the 29 March Edition of the Daily Graphic newspaper; Page 07. For that original publication, you may click here.