Friday, 7 September 2018

Real Tragedy

Today, I am ashamed to be a Ghanaian
Today, I loathe this country called Ghana
Today, I am disgusted with Ghanaian administration
Which specialises in inefficiency, ineptitude
Today, I am sick to death of a Ghana that
cheapens life,
nurtures calamity
rewards negligence
applauds ostentation
smoulders innocence
wails tragedy.
Disgustingly avoidable

Today is Teen Werekoa’s tragedy!
Today, Adagya coughed up
Werekoah’s parents and sibling.
The caved bridge ignored for
hurled the rain waters up.
And vanquished six.
Three, WEREKOA and Sister’s:
Father, Mother, Brother!
Fifties, forties, seven!

The real tragedy, I read,
when prime parents
with dependable children
Die in situations
Principally avoidable!
Werekoa got caught
In nauseous Ghanaian cycle.
Avoidable tragedy!
What did the street waters do?
Whose business was
under the bridge,
broken and sunk?
The street housing the waters?
Is it moral
to neglect a sunk bridge
which hosts human traffic?

Werekoa will be shelled
With the news that no child
Should ever receive.
And be catapulted
Losing one
Is tragic.
Losing both
Is numbing.
Werekoa’s cup.

Is it holy
Pray to God?
Erect monuments?
Worship en mass?
Cheapen life
Cheat humans
Profess duty
Neglect calling
Avoid task
Smoulder the innocent?

Is it holy
Mourn with bereft
Comfort with words
Lavish with gifts
Tender with care,
who ought not
to have lost?

It is Ghana!
After tragedy:
Duty calls
Sympathy flows
Tears fall
Prayers sound
Sycophants jump.
All false.

In a place
Life is cheapened
Duty is neglected
Funds are squandered
Tragedy is cooked
Orphans are engineered.

They are:
Managers not
Honourable not.
Humanitarians not.

They are slaughterers!

Thursday, 2 August 2018

Double-Track School System: A Pointer to Resource-Based Learning

Once again, the Nations is engulfed in a din over changes being introduced at the secondary   educational level. There are several opinions, yet a close analyses indicates, basically a for-or-against-or-I told you so stance. Consequently, innovative ideas are drowned by the entrenched howls. The alarming reality is that Ghana’s educational system is stuck in the traditional mode. Majority of Ghanaians can perceive teaching and learning only in the physical classroom, where a teacher delivers before learners. Breach that reality, and the nation gets a panic attack, hence, the furore over the intended double-track system.
That Information Technology has impacted heavily on education is amply demonstrated in Resource-Based Learning (RBL), which communities over the globe are utilizing in order to improve learning, as well as expand access to education. RBL utilises virtual classroom, thereby, making teaching and learning convenient processes. If our system had tapped RBL even a little, the double-track approach would have been a smooth transition. Of course, in RBL computers and other gadgets are required. Ironically, the concept of RBL was conceived in Ghana about two decades ago.
In the nineties, the Ministry of Education introduced ICT centres to designated secondary schools. Surrounding schools utilised the facility for studies. The centres were resourced with computers and teachers. Currently, most schools, if not all, have ICT centres. Until last year, a constituent of tuition was allocated to ICT. Question: If one should visit any of the schools, would one find the centres actively operational? Would the student:computer ratio be conducive for effective learning? Would one find that centres have Internet connectivity? Would one find that students have regular, open access to the centres? Most important of all, would the students have an inkling about the enormous resources buried in the computers?
The NDC Government recently introduced a one computer per learner practice; at least, I saw pupils using such computers in my neighbourhood. Communities also have ICT centres. Were all those measures not motivated by the concept of RBL? Paradoxically, teaching and learning at all levels get steeped in the physical classroom by the day. At the primary and secondary levels, teachers are passionate about extra-classes, which compound the time learners spend in the physical classroom, reducing potential time for exploring RBL. Of course, extra teaching earns the teacher extra income; RBL would reduce or erase that source, but one must not forget that the teacher earns a salary for teaching.
My point is that we introduce progressive concepts but fail to sustain or develop such to maximum benefits. Even at the tertiary level, RBL remains a foreign concept. Many teachers limit learners to plagiarised hand-outs, or books written by self or friends. If learners research and demonstrate new ideas in feedback activity, or purchase not the prescribed material, they might actually fail the course or get a minimum grade. Instead of exposing students to extensive intellectual material, apostles of handouts starve students of overabundant learning resources.
In fact, most teachers are not RBL savvy, and they deny learners the opportunity to explore such. Yet, 21st Century education is technologically-based; Google is a rich resource. The painful conclusion for one is that as a people, we are not dynamic. We steadfastly choose to live in the past, rendering the present static in order to fulfil immediate desires. Tomorrow will never come. We profess a concern for children and youth but demonstrate pure selfishness. Thus when an innovative idea is introduced, it is sabotaged.
May be I lack attention, but I am yet to hear the Ministers of Education and Finance emphasize the RBL dimension in the double-track dialogue. One minister lamely argued that the students would be in the house fulltime, but for the Free SHS intervention; therefore, the double-track system gives them an option to halve the time they would otherwise spend at home. Wrong. The time spent at home cost the tax payer. Besides, if the right structures are not put in place, the six months in school would be entirely wasted. Please intervene with RBL!
The double-track move should be a collaboration between parents, community and state. The average contemporary Ghanaian parent continues to offload parental training to the teacher. The former bombards children with material things, neglects training. Elsewhere, home-schooling has become a trend, because parents are wary of the poor school environment. In Ghana, parents fall over themselves to secure boarding facilities for children, glossing some implications. It is about time the Government asked such parents: How have you neglected your child(ren)? That should be followed with this statement: it is about time you assumed your role as a parent; oversee six months of learning, because your children would be assessed.
Government is going to share responsibility of children with parents and community; it is ensuring that the resources invested in are utilised in training children. Government is gradually complementing the physical classroom with the virtual one. Learners would be in charge of their learning. So the six months at home would be RBL time. If the Government has not planned to that extent, then a crucial gap must be filled immediately.
If we had a national database that could tell the income level of parents and guardians, those in good income brackets would be required to purchase computers and Internet connectivity for their wards; the state and other stakeholders would supply the real needy, so that all learners would receive the full complement of RBL. Currently, every Ghanaian parent would cry to Government for a computer. There must be a way out. The beauty of RBL is that endless learning opportunities could be tracked by both teacher and learner, be independently, ethically assessed. The planning has probably not covered the full extent of RBL, but what prevents us from packaging it now? The double-track system a potential waste? No, it is the potential pathway to 21st Century education for Ghana, and worth every strategic investment.

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Registrar General: Wrong Move

Since the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development asserted that the private sector is the engine of growth, the expression almost assumed the status of a cliché in Ghana, yet the private sector is really hemmed in for sustainable practices. State institutions set up to support the private sector tend to subject the sector to practices that disempower, rather than empower. Sometimes, one wonders if such institutions bombard the private sector with harsh requirements simply to sabotage government’s plans to boost private sector development – employ the teeming masses trapped by vicious poverty.
Business registration in Ghana is a most frustrating experience; even the literate get treated like illiterate. Forms must be filled by an officer of the Department. Regardless of how meticulous an applicant attempts to be, flaws would be detected, and the forms would eventually be filled by an officer. The baffling aspect is that the forms are quite straight-forward. Then there is renewal of registration; this article targets the flat penalty fee of GH ¢350.00 for defaulting businesses.
I just visited the Department in Western Region, where an official showed me a stack of renewal/re-registration forms discarded by business owners who had been upset by the fine. I was informed that all the processes had been taken care of until the payment stage when the businesses were given a bill upped by GH ¢350.00. I asked myself whether the businesses in question would redeem themselves or abandon the registration activity. The question was prompted by this admission from the official: “There is nothing we can do about it” [emphasis mine]. That is the innate statement used not only to distance self from the rigidity that characterises administrative procedures in Ghana, but to also legitimize nauseous bureaucracy which actually pushes back national development. I will explain my point.
The paper utilised in preparing the discarded registration forms alone cost the tax-payer a fortune. Should the businesses involved decide to abandon the processes, a hefty sum from already limited funds would be wasted. The businesses may not suffer, because they would simply register new businesses, in which case, the only loser would be Government – in reality, the tax-payer. The Government is encouraging entrepreneurship in Ghana in a bid to offload some employment responsibilities to the private sector. The recent decision by the Registrar General may imply business shut-down, negating Government’s effort to partner the private sector in boosting existing business. The loss of revenue would hurt the Government badly.
If one believes the official about the Department’s helplessness in the implementation of the directive, then the directive comes from a higher office, so one would logically conclude that Government is sabotaging its own effort in empowering the poor and the youth. My argument is probably incongruous but not impossible, though my respect for this Government sways me from such belief. I am always highly suspicious of the weather and politicians, but I pray that my suspicion remains just that.
In other words, there is a pragmatic solution than the one embarked on by the Registrar General or whoever might be behind that directive. I will never advocate that tax defaulters or exploitative businesses be allowed to go scot-free; however, I am against the idea of the flat penalty fee, for now. I am naïve when it comes to economics, but I know that Government should seize every opportunity to recoup money owed it rather than dissipate funds or close down avenues to funds. What if the penalty was reduced to GH ¢50.00 as a warning against a hefty sum next year? It should be accompanied by intensive public education about honouring taxes and a warning that, henceforth, a pinching penalty awaits businesses which default in registration. If that motivates even half of defaulters to renew on time, imagine the funds that could stream into Government coffers, in addition to legitimizing the statuses of businesses.
There could be categorization of penalties; some businesses are registered but not being operated for various reasons. Such ones should be penalised with a small amount. Of course, if Ghana had a reliable database of residents, it would be easy to determine from income levels whether a business is operational or not. Then the inactive ones could be given the necessary tax relief,
A cross-section of Ghanaians is very ignorant about taxes; they are proud when they evade taxes. Is this not the perfect time to educate the populace about the role of taxes in sustaining the free SHS, the effective implementation and sustainability of the “One District, One Factory Policy”? Is it not about time the populace was educated about the realities of getting to the “Ghana beyond Aid” destination? Indeed, it is time to scream to Ghanaians that international aid and donations are taxes from the contributing nations, and that we are pathetic when we simply squander our funds and scramble for others’ sweat funds? A multi-sectorial approach would be most effective in such sensitization processes.
The fact is that the Registrar General should think beyond penalising businesses; it should focus on law enforcement. Businesses must be renewed annually and taxes filed aside from that filed for Ghana Revenue Authority. That civic responsibility should be drummed home to business owners. In business proposal documents, aspiring business owners are informed that taxes are paid according to income; therefore, businesses enable owners to earn higher income, which translates into higher taxes. In other words, people should know the income implications of setting up businesses. Ghanaian businesses cannot play ignorance forever; the Registrar General should start that sensitization NOW.
The education path might be more effective in turning business owners into willing tax payers than the penalty slapped on them. In the current situation, unscrupulous officers would devise means to help businesses evade the penalty, then collect gratitude money. Once again, the nation loses. My question: Is the Registrar General or the source of the directive willing to be objective about this, adopt a holistic approach or will it maintain its myopic stance, risk alienating businesses and deprive Government of desperately-needed funds?

Thursday, 7 June 2018

What Would be Better than Mathematical Sets

In an apparent grand gesture, some well-meaning Ghanaians distributed mathematical sets to a cross-section of candidates writing the 2018 Basic Education Certificate Examination. Considering the financial constraints of some Ghanaians, one would not be surprised that an appreciable number of the candidates might not have owned mathematical sets until they received the gifts. The benefactors deserve gratitude for thinking about deprived parents and children.
However, the situation could have been handled in a different and more pragmatic manner. Mathematical literacy is very low among basic school children. Performance in maths examination has been declining over the years. The poor performance gets replicated at the secondary level. Concerned educators really are baffled about how mathematics is handled in both basic and secondary school classrooms, so that graduates end up lacking basic mathematical literacy.
The pragmatic approach, therefore, should be tackling the core problem, the teaching and learning challenges that negate classroom efforts aimed at imparting numeracy to pupils. Amongst other measures, classroom practices from kindergarten through senior high school ought to be revisited for radical improvement. Personnel in charge of the classrooms should be retrained and monitored effectively for performance. Serious thought should be given to ways through which information technology could be utilised not only to enhance studies in mathematics, but also to ensure that pupils and students begin to like the subject. A likeness for the subject would be the best motivation for learners to pursue mathematical literacy.
Teachers should strive to bring reality into mathematical classrooms. In rural areas, where electricity and electronic devices are in short supply, innovative teachers could utilise local materials such as bottle tops, stones/pebbles, sticks to explore numeracy in kindergarten and lower primary. In the upper classes, local settings could be used to explain concepts and formulae. Numerous examples could be designed from our market settings alone. Yes, mathematics could be fun and practical for learners.
In other words, the problem facing learners is not just about lacking working tools or equipment. Giving mathematical sets to pupils who may not able to draw the y and x axis, let alone plot lines defeats the intention behind the offer. In the good old days, students were taught how to use the tools in the set, in geometry. My mathematics teacher, Mr. Osei-Sarfo, patiently took us through the process of placing a pencil in the compass so as to be able to plot and chart precise lines. Even in secondary form 1, majority of us were challenged by that simple process. The teacher kept repeating that if we failed to place the pencil right, our lines will not be accurate. We had a good sense of humour and made so much fun of one another whenever the compasses looked like broken necks.
I have been thinking about that experience since I read about the mathematical set gifts to the pupils. I asked myself: How many of the pupils would know how to use the tools to solve mathematical problems? What is more important, how many of the candidates would really comprehend the problems that would be given them to solve, which comprehension would guide them to utilise the tools in the set accurately? In short, are the students even prepared for the mathematics examination?
Whilst I may speculate about the questions, I know for a certainty that teaching/learning mathematics is bogged down with the severest of challenges. The challenges effectively render the giving of mathematical sets ostentatious, rather than pragmatic. I recommend that in future, the mathematical sets should be given to needy pupils, at least, six months before the final examination. That way, even if teachers are not able to help pupils utilise the tools, the latter may get assistance from parents or siblings.
Above all, maths-inclined teachers from secondary and tertiary institutions, parents and students could be mobilised to volunteer their time to complement primary teachers’ efforts in teaching fundamental mathematics. Such volunteers would practise sums with pupils. Volunteering might be for thirty minutes or an hour, yet it might go a long way to motivate pupils to grasp basic mathematical concepts.
Pupils and students need to understand that mathematics not only helps humans to understand our universe, but it aids us in solving daily problems. We deal with mathematics in everyday life. Learners should be helped to understand that they apply the principles of mathematics throughout the day, and that the classroom lessons help them to put a name/concept to things they do every day. When mathematics is reduced to such simple terms, learners might change the mentality that maths is too difficult a subject to grasp.
The Nation does not have a choice: If the objective is to create entrepreneurs, critical thinkers and innovators for society, then mathematics should be offered to learners in a pragmatic manner. Teachers should sharpen their numeracy skills before their teaching can have an impact on learners. Of course, pupils must develop enthusiasm for learning mathematics. A proactive approach could ensure that. Currently, a cross-section of the candidates may not know how to use the tools in the mathematical set. However, if they really understood the underlying principles of the subject, they could improvise the tools from local materials to demonstrate applied knowledge. All stakeholders of education must join forces to ensure that pupils have enabling classrooms for fun teaching/learning of mathematics. This is not the time for ostentation, please!

Monday, 14 May 2018

Refining the Entire Person: The Ultimate Goal of Education

The massive expansion in access to education, … is adding many years of schooling, but much less learning, during childhood and youth
                        African Development Forum Series

From prehistoric cultures through the Old and New World Civilizations, through classical cultures, education consistently targeted the refinement of individuals. Education was used to mould children’s behaviour, guide them in learning about their culture, preparing them for their role in society. Whereas the purpose of education has evolved over the centuries due to societal needs and aspirations, as well as technology, to mention these, aspects such as transmission of acquired knowledge and refining of behaviour for diverse reasons have not changed. Irrespective of their cultures, as children grow, they are taken through processes which enable them to become assets to their respective societies, even as they cultivate habits which endow them with personal dignity. Thus, the concept of education has evolved from the simple process of enculturation to a multi-purposed human endeavour.[i]    
This paper advocates that for maximum benefits of education, not only does the entire person has to be targeted, but the teaching/learning processes must simultaneously prepare the learner for current community, nation and global needs. Education must also endow the educated with adaptable skills which would enable them to successfully navigate their way through complex professional, socio-cultural and economic changes. Hence, in the 21st Century when technology rapidly dictates changes in almost all facets of human endeavour, education is effective if beneficiaries are empowered to be equally adept at utilizing human intelligence and technology in a balanced manner to address diverse personal and societal needs. The paper thus critiques the current major teaching approach – extra classes – and recommends a humanist approach, rather than the current banking classroom practice.
The teaching/learning processes ought to aid learners to become independent learners who can navigate their own learning to their desired professional and socio-cultural spaces[ii]. Contemporary learners have the advantage of physical and technological exploration of knowledge, which effectively creates global opportunities for personal and societal manoeuvres[iii]. In other words, good education engenders a certain versatility in beneficiaries, which versatility is no fluke but must be nurtured across spaces, especially in the classroom. A 20th Century Brazilian educator located the nurturing teacher/learner relationship in dialogue. He decried the practice whereby education is operated as “banking – the educator making ‘deposits’ in the educatee"[iv], which practice currently aptly captures Ghanaian education.
Curriculum developers plan teaching/learning of subjects in chunks of information, which chunks are serialised in small units of information, spaced to cover oral instruction, written and practical activity, and possible application of ideas gleaned from the delivery processes, all timed to aid quality information delivery, reflective reading for assimilation, and eventual evaluation. A teacher has the professional and ethical responsibility to honour the time-bound syllabus. Failure to do that detracts from a teacher’s claim to professionalism. However, an appreciable majority of teachers, especially in basic and secondary education, have legitimised extra teaching – at an extra cost to parents –on the pretext of overloaded syllabi.
What was done sparingly in the past to fill genuine information gaps on the course syllabus has become a regular activity for most schools. At the primary level, extra classes are organized from the kindergarten level to the JHS level. The only exceptional category remains babies in the womb. The situation is no different at the secondary level, where a cross-section of teachers deliberately cover a portion of the syllabus during regular school hours and cover the rest during extra classes. Some secondary schools have legalised extra classes for extra income; in such situations, the general time-table has been extended for an hour. A cross-section of science teachers organize extra-extra classes, sometimes at odd hours, disadvantaging day students in the process, in order to cover the syllabus. Of course, students might be told that the extra time is optional, but when just about every classmate class is participating, how could a handful opt out, especially if the teacher stresses that the extra time is necessary in order to cover the syllabus? 
Ideally, all contemporary pupils and students in Ghana should be super geniuses, considering the rate at which teachers bombard them with information. However, the evidence in tertiary classrooms indicate that the fixation on extra time for teaching/learning is rather turning learners’ brains dormant. Increasingly, we are getting students who can barely read, cannot construct sentences in English, after learning English for twelve years. What is worse, students possess hardly any comprehension skill, so the concepts of analytical reading, critical thinking can barely be broached in most cases. In effect, the average contemporary Ghanaian learner is not an engaged reader, thinker nor writer. A critical question: Are students spending the same time on reflective reading as they do receiving information? In most tertiary classroom situations, the answer would be no. Since students can apparently not defend the certificates that send them to tertiary classrooms, stakeholders have genuine reasons to contemplate the educational system.
The 2014 World Economic Forum report envisions a new target for the 21st Century education; it advocates that technology should be utilised to nurture social and emotional learning. That vision has no room for mere dumping of information on learners. Rather, learners should be able to communicate, collaborate and solve problems, which qualities could be acquired through constant dialogue, exposure to situations or role play, the analysis of which could aid learners to develop comprehension and critical thinking skills[v].

Source: 2014 World Economic Forum Report
The global body stresses lifelong learning skills, not short-term ones which enable learners to memorise information in order to pass examination and promptly forget the knowledge acquired. It emphasises a balance in seeking intellectual abilities and social insights, learning practical and active skills and developing attitudes and values. That constitutes effective teaching/learning[vi]. Such products are able to defend their certificates because acquisition of accurate knowledge renders them competent professionally, technologically, economically and socio-culturally.

Source: 2014 New Economic Forum Report
Considering that ICT dictates the pace in global education, some honest questions are necessary for evaluating current classroom positions in Ghana:
·         Are the schools incorporating ICT culture in their daily teaching/learning activities?
·          How are they utilising information technology to nurture pupils’/students’ potential in engineering, mathematics, agricultural studies?
·         How are the schools utilising computer programmes to aid foreign language studies? How are the schools being innovative, and practical in addressing critical issues such as waste management?
·         Are students being introduced to extra-curricular activities that might unleash entrepreneurship potential?
·         Are the schools operating in sync with current national policies such as digitalization?
·         Ultimately, are the schools imparting 21st Century Skills?
All stakeholders ought to consider these questions if we really are targeting proactive education.

[i] Education. (2018). Pulled from the World Wide Web
[ii] Rogers, C. (2012). Experiential learning: Instructional design. Pulled from the World Wide Web
[iii] Oliver, B., Nikoletatos, P., von Konsky, B., Wilkinson, H., Ng, J. Crowley, R. Moore, R. & Townsend, R. (2009). Curtin’s iPortfolio: An   online space for creating, sharing and showcasing evidence of learning. Proceedings from ascilite Auckland ’09. Pulled from the World Wide Web
[iv] Smith, M. K. (1997, 2002). Paulo Freire and informal education’, the encyclopaedia of informal education. Pulled from the World Wide Web [
[v] 2014 World Economic Forum Report
[vi] General Objectives of Learning. (2018). Pulled from the World Wide Web

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Open Letter to President Akuffo-Addo and Education Minister I

Dear President and Minister,
I write to you as an advocate for quality education and as someone who agrees with your laudable motives for improving education in the country, especially basic and secondary levels. Your changes are occurring in difficult times. If Charles Dickens were here, he would definitely call our days Hard Times, because now most teachers see money, not human potential. Many are clueless that the products they fail to nurture pose the biggest threat to society. Amidst such chaos, your Government has taken the courageous stand to fund secondary education, increase access to education, rid the system of exploitative practices.
Parents, guardians, all pragmatic Ghanaians appreciate the services being provided for free: “Admission, feeding and boarding, tuition, textbooks, library, science resource centre, computer laboratory, examination, one meal for day students. Fact: This country has enough for everyone’s needs; it does not have enough for everybody’s greed or extravagance. With frugal use of tax payers’ money, the policy can not only be sustained amidst any challenges, but it can also be improved.
Dear President, I share your sentiment wholly that America’s decision to completely fund secondary education a century ago has brought the nation to its current destination of a beacon of educational excellence and quality lifestyle. Additionally, when the Russians pioneered space exploration, President Kennedy acknowledged that America was operating a moribund school curriculum and rapidly worked out a dynamic science curriculum that responded to changing times. Even so, a century ago, America did not have the benefit of Information Technology (IT). Currently, that is an ace up Ghana’s sleeve. The hassles that characterised admission in 2017 need not be repeated. IT could smoothen the processes, come September 2018.
In computerised learning systems, one can conveniently access information and services online. In Ghana, however, when examination results are released by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), it means parents/guardians must buy a scratch card for a code with which to access and download results from WAEC website. That should have changed in 2017, Sirs. But it did not; therefore, the GES ought to improve its computer system in order to remove the bottlenecks for parents and guardians. Utilize the Internet.
Effective this September, immediately WAEC announces its results, parents and candidates should be able to access examination results from its website or a telephone hotline, using candidate’s numbers, from the comfort of their homes. Within the first week, WAEC should offload the entire results onto the GES database for immediate activation and dissemination. By the second week, parents and candidates should be accessing the admission lists from the website.
The essence of computerization ought to be the convenience of online access of information and expedited services. That has not been the culture of GES computerisation system. In 2016, following the announcement of release, parents thronged school campuses, some travelling two or three regions, only to be told that the GES could not abide by its schedule, so they had to wait a day or two. Those who primed themselves for return trips found themselves in a fix. Even though the scenario was different in 2017, it could be further improved upon. There has been a precedent.
In the era of Common Entrance Examination, WAEC simultaneously posted master results to centres in each region and lists of students to their respective choices, names of unsuccessful candidates excluded. Candidates who passed could tell from their marks whether they would be admitted by their first or second choice. Schools readily prepared and mailed admission letters and prospectuses to candidates and parents. The examinations were written in March/April; by July ending, the outcomes had reached candidates and parents. That was the manual age. Contrarily, this is the electronic age, so numbers notwithstanding, accessing WASSCE results should be expedited.
Only a dynamic IT system could smoothen high school admission processes. The GES website must have a link for admission, so that candidates can ascertain which of their four choices they have secured. The same site must have a link for prospectus which would be accessed and downloaded by parents. Not only would the link save parents multiple trips to the schools, but it would render the processes transparent. Such transparency would pre-empt the situation where schools can add superfluous items that compel parents to pay money they should not, thereby, negating Government’s efforts to provide free secondary education. Since PTA levy is mandatory, MoE/GES could ensure that the schools do not utilise that to replicate illegitimate payments.
Educational institutions elsewhere which handle larger numbers than our BECE and SHS candidates manage their examination systems electronically, so Ghana can do same. But it will not be done through the communication service providers. We have seen the chaos they can cause. The Ministry should explore the technical skills of the electronic team that collated and released accurate election results locally and internationally within a few hours of closing elections in December 2016. That team should electronically sanitize MoE/GES computer system and service delivery by giving it a high capacity, as well as a most accessible path in order to close avenues for exploitation during admission. Without a super IT intervention, Sirs, unscrupulous elements will continuously explore innovative means to financially exploit parents/guardians.
The average intrepid Ghanaian parent cannot be relied upon to protest any such exploitation, because they are terrified of retaliatory measures by school figures. Parents will overcompensate by kowtowing to rather than exposing unprofessional or unethical practices by any of the school authorities. These very parents also constitute the electorate, President and Minister, so they will acquiesce and later complain that the Government has failed to provide free secondary education. Thus, sterilising the system electronically will be a win-win situation for all stakeholders. However, once admission is completed, learning occurs. Quality content deserves its own platform. I address that in my next letter, Sirs.


Monday, 23 April 2018

Dignifying Femininity: A Challenge to Some Ghanaian Women

On Thursday April 12, 2018, BBC’s Focus on Africa featured a rather repulsive
article on some Ghanaian women. A female actor had justified her status as a kept woman – BBC’s label. A female journalist on Citi FM’s morning show had supported the actor; I paraphrase part of the journalist’s explanation: The cost of living in Ghana is very high. Accommodation is terribly expensive, it is costly to keep a vehicle …. Therefore a woman aligns herself with a married man in order to be provided with the luxuries of life. Such a nonchalant stance for possibly disrupting family life, betraying a female, destroying (girl) children’s life is numbing.

It is appalling that such a position should be taken by a career woman; it is nauseating that she is supported by another career woman. Apparently, the women in question are clueless about female independence; they obviously have little appreciation for diligence. Worst of all, the dignity that comes from enjoying the rewards of one’s hard work has eluded them. Sadly, such women miss the sterling experience of the utter satisfaction that emanates from a sense of achievement in life. Their loss! But it is a shame.

The two women might present a gloomy a picture, yet that that is the pathetic stance of a great majority of Ghanaian women. An appreciable percentage of young women strut on our campuses, yet genuine knowledge acquisition has little appeal for them. Such are happier when they circumvent diligent learning protocol in order to secure marks. They squander precious opportunity to unleash their potential, because they allow themselves to be infantilized by unscrupulous elements who support cheating and laziness. The former plunge into the kept status as students and can maintain such addiction in adult life. They covet luxury and relish ostentation.

There is nothing wrong with pursuing comfort and luxury in life, as long one proceeds conscientiously. Good accommodation, vehicles and other niceties in life come through hard work. When a person prematurely seeks such, they must resort to unscrupulous means. Such a path can only be avaricious, naïve females should know that. If the men providing the luxury did not work, would they get money to cater for both legitimate and rapacious lifestyles? And if men work, why not women? Decades after the Beijing Conference and in the year of the #Me too Movement, does any female have a cause to be a man’s kept woman? Not if she’s decent, not if she’s diligent, not if she’s intelligent. Indeed, the same argument goes for men.

Fact: A woman does not become a kept woman because choice eludes her. A female concedes to being a kept woman because she wants to reap where she has not sown, and that negates femininity. As long as a woman revels in her kept status, she has no claim to female dignity.