Our Falling Education … – By Fo Fovi

There is a decline in the standards of our educational system and its related activities mainly due to the approach by the crop of leaders we have mandated to manage our educational system. I don’t know what their objectives are but I am also sure they are not exercising real influence in the educational sector but rather playing to the gallery.

The educational system is whacked with so many troubles of varying degrees that you are tempted to question the government of the day about the role it is playing to remedy the situation, and this also begs the question, ‘Is the government of the day aware of the troubles at the helm of Ghana Educational Service (GES) and the eventual problems they are creating for us as a nation?”

There were outbursts from all angles and circles of the nation decrying the poor results of our recent graduands from the Junior High School (JHS). From a reliable source, I learnt their performance was so abysmal that some districts scored zero. How is that possible?

It would have been as good as abandoning the exams by the said districts. Do they have an educational circuit that is also supervised by another higher circuit? Are the students engaging in self-tuition without a syllabus or what is required of them? I think we have to be serious as a nation right from the top to the base.

There are so many reasons to account for this poor show and if not tackled as an emergency will become a canker and eat into the very fabric of our society because I know and have been told severally that ‘EDUCATION is the KEY’! So if the successive governments will not equip it’s citizenry with the ‘key’ then we are bound to be locked outside sometime soon.

Among the myriads of factors that contribute to the problem are our attitudes to education. The citizenry must be sensitized on the role education plays in the lives of the individuals and collectively as a nation, championed by the government i.e. The Ministry of Education (MoE). Once, that role is defined and clearly cut, all stakeholders will know how to contribute to the success of education in the nation.

Secondly, we have GES officials, Ministers and other state officials whose children are schooling outside the country. My concern is not the fact that, their privileged children are schooling outside but the lackadaisical attitude they have towards educating other peoples’ children. They sit in their high rise offices and dictate to their subordinates without control systems to ensure that these directives are carried out. I don’t know how it works now, but I remember GES officials visiting schools unannounced and timeously which put the teachers on their toes. It created a sense of responsibility in the teachers who owed it a duty to do the right thing.

Supervision is so lax because everybody thinks s/he is doing the other a favor. We have teachers especially the female ones who go to school with bakeries among others to sell in class for the students i.e. meat-pie, cake, rock-buns, kulikuli, ‘conkada’, ice-creams, ‘boflot’ to sell to the students. Sometimes, they have a favorite who they mandate to sell the wares on their behalf, at other times too, all the students are forced to buy these wares even if you have to come and pay the following day.

This style of buying by force has forced a number of students from the class and eventually out of the school because; to begin with they do not have the money for such luxuries and also sees it as an imposition and infringement on their rights. In other cases, marks are awarded in class and examinations by your customer goodwill i.e. if you are a regular customer of that teacher.

Some of the teachers carry along other wares like dresses, underwear, panties, pair of shoes and other feminine accessories which they sell among themselves. Students can not pass mostly in the rural areas where lax supervision renders the male teachers drunk before going to the classroom and some absenting themselves in most cases.

A Sound mind is supposed to be in a clean body and its dependent environment but what do we see? Classrooms under trees where concentration becomes a problem, dilapidated buildings are used as classrooms and in some instances; one room is being used by two different classes. Schools buildings are in pathetic states that it does not even encourage effective learning anymore; no wonder teachers refuse to go to such places when posted there.

The Influx of technology and its affordability have contributed to the problem. Proliferation and liberalization has made it possible for almost every student to own a mobile phone which has become a bane to them. They are either sampling their ringtones or showing-off with their latest tune upload. They are either blue-toothing in class or playing games while their teachers are also enjoying a ‘free call’ or one of those reduced tariff calls to their friends and families as they say. And all of these things do not augur well for students especially below the tertiary level.

Additionally, students now go about with DVD’s and VCD’s in their bags. All they want to do is watch those 40-in-1 DVD’s and copy the lifestyle of the make-believe characters they watch, forgetting that these characters are on set and actually playing the roles of others. They can tell you about which star is dating the other, the last time a star was divorced and almost everything about these characters at the expense of their books. They hardly read books other than their course materials which they only find imperative to read during examinations.  It is very appalling to engage these students in a chat especially the ones from the rural and not too urban areas.

Apart from the children not wanting to do anything educational, they are also left at the mercy of TV sets by their parents. Unlike some years back when all you had was GTV, now we have all kinds of TV namely DSTV, Metro TV, TV3, Multi TV with it’s many channels. All you have to do is name your interest and you will be engrossed in that world of Visuals. Some of them can tell you everything on TV as if they were the program managers.

Most parents are caught up in the system that they hardly stay at home. They do not know what their children do in their absence, how they go about what they do, let alone where they spend their time. There is a saying that ‘if you do not know where your child is at what time, there is the possibility that s/he is indulging in sin’, an activity that will not elicit your approval. Parents have to be responsible for their children’s education and stop giving the lame excuse that they pay school fees for their children to be taught hence teachers should be wholly responsible for their wards.

Furthermore, most teachers feel irresponsible because of the way they are treated. The delay in the payment of salary and the politicking that comes with it, the government’s insensitivity to their plights as compared to other government workers like the Doctors, Engineers, Parliamentarians and others. Everybody is saving lives and should be taken serious. It is wrong to tell them that their rewards are in heaven because I do not see how the heaven gig goes with the atheist teacher. This is simple because if the teacher does not have a peace of mind, s/he can not inculcate the right thing into the student.

I do not seek to recommend what we have to do to curb the anomaly and how discipline can be instilled into the educational sector but rather outline some of the causes that has made it impossible to achieve academic excellence so that you and I can brainstorm how we can come up with answers and push EDUCATION to where it belongs.