[lg policy] West Africa: Is our educational system in shambles?

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Tue May 31 10:59:23 EDT 2016

Is our educational system in shambles?
[image: Is the standard of education falling in our country]
the standard of education falling in our country
By: Dr Albert O. A. Tsolu Date : Monday, 30 May 2016 14:26
Published in Opinion <http://www.graphic.com.gh/features/opinion.html>

The Oxford dictionary defines education as a process of teaching, training
and learning, especially in schools and colleges/universities. This denotes
the ability to acquire and improve knowledge and skills through tutelage
that is done in a systematic manner over a period of time.

The acquisition of knowledge depends on the ability of the acquirer to do
this in a way that is either quick or slow. This attribute may rest on the
Intelligent Quotient (IQ) of the recipient and may relate to the
environmental condition of the beneficiary.

Knowledge can be dichotomised by natural endowment or acquiring it through
study. Knowledge is, therefore, the pivotal power of humankind.

*Child education*

Education of the child, consequently, comes to play as the most important
tool for adequate nation building. Child education usually serves as a
strong cornerstone for the development of the child mentally to be useful
in society. Therefore, there must be no substitute for child education no
matter what.

The characteristics of child training that enables the child to grow well
educationally are mental, moral and physical training. As children cannot
concentrate on one thing for a long period, it is propitious to tutor the
child through play/ storytelling or else interlacing teaching with
music/singing that will refresh the child’s mind to concentrate better on
whatever he or she is being impacted on.

Once any of the above qualities is lacking, development of the child
becomes deplete and incomplete as all these attributes are intertwined. For
instance, a child who is interested in sports especially football will
grapple with geometry and trigonometry faster and better than the child who
has no interest because of the angles, circles, diameters/radius etc.
linked with the football field.

This scenario goes with other games and the interest in other extramural
activities such as music that involves calculation. Extramural activities
boost the ego and morale of the child and makes him/her perform well

*The known to unknown*

It is propounded, also, that children must be tutored from known to unknown
that will make them assimilate lessons properly. Based on this, local
languages are used to commence tutoring the child in our basic schools. I
see no virtue in this philosophy as any child born anywhere and introduced
to learning in any language at any time will do well once the approach is

For instance, I was born by Ewe parents at Larteh in Akwapim.  Therefore,
my first contact of diction was Ewe. Due to the colonial policy of teaching
from the known to unknown for the first three years of our education at
that time, I was saddled with starting with Ewe at home, then switched on
to Akwapim Twi at school.

Larteh had a dialect that I needed to learn to be able to associate well
with my peers. By the time I was 10 years I had to migrate with my mother
to the Volta Region to start all over again with Ewe relating to the
wobbling language policy in schools then.

At this stage, I became confused and was frightened any time there was a
subject called language be it local or foreign. This is what happens to
children of my calibre. My gigabytes were full language wise, so there was
little room for important subjects such as mathematics/science that is the
logic of reason/knowledge.

For instance, we normally pronounce Tomato - “tomanto” and pear-“payer” in
the local languages. Switching on to spell or pronounce these words and
other similar ones correctly was a very daunting task and nearly ended up
my struggle for education.

Most of our English essays were marked; vernacular English with copious red
ink marks that discouraged most of my mates and consequently ending their
ambition for education.

This is the problem linked with teaching from known to unknown relating to
language as introduced to us by our colonial masters.

At my middle school years at Gbi Wegbe, Volta Region, the head teacher in
trying to upgrade our competence in English language drew an ugly huge
monkey that was worn on the chest of any student caught speaking the
vernacular. The last person that wore it for the day was severely punished.


Language is a means to communicate and it does not matter what language one
is introduced to begin with. If teaching from known to unknown by using
accustomed parlance is credible, then our cultural practices must be taught
first in our schools before any foreign ideology is imposed.

English has assumed universal communication platform that has clustered the
world together with ease. Swahili was adopted in most Eastern African
States as lingua franca but did not survive and that called for its

Africana was imposed on the Southern African States but with fiasco. China
is a big country and can survive without the outside world yet English
language is common there.  What I try to expand is that language does not
matter that much in knowledge acquisition.

After all, private schools with lesser-trained teachers that do not tow
this language policy perform better than those of the public schools that
adopt this practice no matter what environmental parameters that are used
as contemplation.

Lackadaisical performance in public schools, in particular, hinges on lack
of adequate supervision/inspection, seriousness and respect for teachers
and education in general to encourage the downtrodden to pursue it. We need
inversion of the policy by introducing vernacular at a later stage as our
alphabets and numerals are derived from foreign ones. No one will send his
or her ward to private schools if the public ones perform well.

*A broken system?*

Ghana’s education that was the envy/cynosure of Africa has dwindled
chaotically with majority of students in many of our institutions hardly
able to spell/pronounce words appropriately, do basic mathematics correctly
and being oblivious of geographical locations due to wrong calculus in
educational policy implementation over the years.

I listened to some officials from the Ghana Education Service (GES) and the
National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) defending a book written
by an educationist that heads were created to carry loads just in the
measure of known to unknown. I thought they could add defaecating in
bushes/gutters/beaches or throwing rubbish indiscriminately and noise
making to their policy repertoire as that is the practice in our society
today that most children are accustomed to.

Writer’s email:ghansainvest at yahoo.com
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