The country’s educational system has undergone several changes since independence. I daresay that these changes have been largely ephemeral; not touching on the core problems faced by the sector.
However the motives behind such reforms are to make the educational system more responsive to the challenges facing our country. The last educational reform dubbed the Anamuah Mensah reform was implemented in September 2007 but in just about five years into the implementation, the debate about the standard of education in the country has resurface.
In fact there are many Ghanaians who have lost complete faith in the current educational system and feel that something urgently needs to be done. This debate I believe must be given urgent attention especially in the media. For me, one area that has not been fair to students over the years is how they are progressed from one level to the other through examinations. The exams are too theoretical and do not favour students who are naturally not capable in this area or students who might have not had a good and solid foundation in their educational life through no fault of theirs. It will interest us to know that these people have other potentials which when given the right environment can be unearthed to make them useful to themselves and the country as a whole.
The recent tagging of some forty nine percent of BECE candidates as failures is a major source of worry to many of us since in my view such an assertion is not a true reflection of the performance of such students. A section of the media reported that some schools and even some districts recorded zero percent in the exams. The implication is that from kindergarten to JHS three, these students did not learn anything and therefore are not worthy to immediately further their education. Today we have had many of these children ending up in our streets.
To me, education should be tailored towards skills and knowledge and therefore the practicum aspect of students must be assessed as well before we label them as failures. Learning is better appreciated when it touches all the faculties of the individual in the long run. Therefore all the learning faculties of the individual must be properly assessed before we pass judgement on his or her performance.
It will surprise many of us that among those who had zero percent are our future engineers, contractors and the likes but the opportunity to reach such height is sealed since they don’t qualify for placement per our standard. In fact this is a suicidal mission we are embarking on to make the lives of most young people miserable. A portion of the educational reforms in 2007 states: After Junior High School (JHS), students may choose to go into different streams at Senior High School (SHS), comprising General Education and Technical, Vocational and Agricultural Education and Training (TVET) or enter into an apprenticeship scheme with some support from the government” Some one will then ask if this is really the educational policy we are implementing; nothing is done to students who do not qualify for computer placement at the JHS level.
The major problem of these children may be expressing themselves in English and converting their thoughts into writing. Nevertheless we have seen foreigners in this country who cannot speak good English but are constructing our roads. Today there are people who speak very good English but are incompetent in their field of work. A renowned lecturer at the University of Education, Winneba’s department of psychology and education Dr.George Kankam once said for a standard test to give a better picture of an individual it must be used with other non test techniques such as observation and sociometry. To him, all aspects of learners should be examined when assessing them for placement.
This is to prevent us from giving wrong judgement about individuals based on single exams.
Meanwhile everybody in Ghana today is aware that it is deprived and rural schools that fall victim to this whole process of using only one exam to asses our students. Interestingly all governments have claimed that their programmes and policies are to benefit the poor who are in rural areas. I wonder how many schools in the cities in the country had zero percent. It is a fact that students in rural areas are not given a level ground to their counterparts in the cities but they are assessed equally putting them at a disadvantage on the scale.
You can’t have patriotic citizens when you start showing them wickedness at their youthful stage and messing their lives up.
Our young people must be rather encouraged and built through proper measurement and institutions so that they become agents of social change. This will build in them patriotic spirits which many people lack today. As a country, we should have hope in this generation so that we don’t mess up their lives.
Teachers must be empowered in assessing the non test aspect of their students so that it will be factored into children’s overall assessment. Government must institute measures to accommodate all basic students who complete their education. They should be placed in institutions according to their abilities taking into consideration their interest and future aspirations.
The computer placement should take into account the interest, values, aspirations and abilities based on the students’cumulative records before placing them either in SHS or vocational and technical institutions. In addition, government must quickly institute an apprenticeship programme to absorb students who have interest in such areas and for those who do not qualify for the computer placement.
Finally teachers must be tasked to study students closely and have a confidential report on each child which would be factored into their general assessment.
ALI TANTI ROBERT
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, YOUTH ALLIANCE FOR DEVELOPMENT