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Robert Akumbobe writes: My country is sick; thoughts on education in Ghana

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I will be examining critical sectors of our country under the title: My country is sick.

This will be opinionated views interlaced with proven data to bring out the issues that arouse public discussion.

I will begin the ‘My Country is Sick’ series in Education.  I dare to speak to the ills of the education sector and to expose the burdens that teachers and their students are carrying in silence.

Shall we begin.

Education is said to be the backbone of every country and we often say that the Asian giants that we were once at par with decades ago, succeeded through education.

Education has been the priority of every government over the years under the various regimes that we have ever witnessed and continue to witness in this country.

However, much as they do, the cracks in the education sector seem to get wider and bigger over time and I dare say it is at its worst point now.

Yes, you may disagree with me and I respect that.

We are witnessing the monumental issues in the education sector and I can bear witness to that because I am a stakeholder there.

No chair syndrome: 

A few months ago, one of the topical issues in Ghana was the popular no bed syndrome and it was discussed across the various media platforms. But we don’t hear it again. Not because the problem has been solved, but the Ghanaian attitude of talking about issues and allowing them to die their natural death.

That is not my focus for now, but the no chair syndrome in our schools.

This is a serious delipidating issue that is sinking our education sector to its worst point. We used to hear of children learning on the floor in the primary schools and rarely in some deprived junior high schools.

Today the story is different and senior high schools’ students are sitting on the bare floor to learn. 

I am not talking about sitting on blocks or other improvised things like wood. I mean bare floor.

How do you expect a teenager who is in her puberty stage to dress and go and sit on the bare floor to learn and what results will such students produce?

Your guess is as good as mine.

No parents’ invention, but government alone.

The above issue is one thing which is affecting education at all levels. The government in the past created the impression that they will do everything and that parent’s duty was to only release their children to school. This impression has sunk so well in most parents’ minds that they don’t see the need to contribute in any way to their children’s education any longer.

I will give you two examples in this regard.

In the Junior high school levels, parents always pay printing fees at the end of the term. This money is always used to print the questions for their wards. The small money that is left after the printing is always shared among the teachers and this serves as their only motivation to mark the papers.

However, the GES (Ghana Education Service) has on countless occasions warned heads of Primary and Junior high schools from collecting such fees. 

They say, the government will fund the printing and they started something which never went beyond a year. Teachers were directed to write examination questions on the board for students to copy.

We are all familiar with the social media trolls that greeted that usual directive.

It is a herculean task for a teacher to write 40 objective questions and the theory for the students and where are the motivations that they use to get the small left-over printing fee.

All these changes have effects on quality and performance, but because the effects are not immediate, nobody cares.

Another example is at the senior high school level. The emergence of the Free SHS is a good thing, but the government’s  burden syndrome is hurting it greatly.

Teachers are grasping with parents’ reluctance in supplying basic things like exercises books, calculators and graph books, just to mention but a few.

Parents don’t buy textbooks for elective subjects. The government is supplying only text books for the core, but the free mentality makes most parents think that everything is to be supplied for free.

Take for example a mathematics class, how can a student function without a calculator, graph book and a mathematical set?

But that is what most teachers are going through in silence in their classrooms.

They are not talking, because no one cares to listen and others are too afraid to talk.

The unfortunate part is that they will be speaking at a time we don’t want them to.

The absence of these items that should help in teaching and learning is the result of the poor results across both the BECE and WASSCE.

Most people were surprised when final year students in SHS took to social media to rain unprintable words on the President for not allowing them to get “apor” as they called it.

Most people were surprised, but the teachers were not. Students are being empowered under the disguise of human rights.

Teachers are now toothless dogs in the various schools. They can only now give advice, but cannot correct.

Nursing students can bring their babies to school with a caregiver, but Nursing female teachers are not allowed to bring their babies to school.

I sincerely believe our educational sector is sick and needs serious attention.

It needs the attention of qualified hands and not anyone else.

That is why I stand by the teacher unions in their stands against their newly appointed Director General.

We must all play our part in bringing back the right education we want for our children and that is why I am doing my bit by authoring this article.

After all, we must be citizens and not spectators.

Akumbobe Robert.

The writer is a blogger with archornews.com

The above represents, entirely, the thoughts of the writer, Robert Akumbobe and not the thoughts of Agreed Best Communication Limited and its subsidiaries.

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