The Minister of Education has stated that Ghana would very soon change the use of English as a medium of instruction in school.
Prof. Jane Naana Opoku Agyemang largely blamed the inability of the educated working class to develop the nation to the language used in teaching them in schools.
The minister who was part of the “Shared Prosperity Forum” Friday indicated that she was determined to push through the language policy at the highest level so that school children can be thought in their mother tongue.
The forum held at the University of Ghana assembled several high-level opinion leaders from the public and private sectors to reflect on two ambitious goals- end extreme poverty by 2030, and to effectively promote income growth among people in the bottom 40 percent of the population in every country of the world.
Prof. Jane Naana Opoku Agyemang
The panelists were Dr. Jim Yong Kim, President, World Bank Group; Dr. Akinwumi Adesina,President, African Development Bank; Mr. Tony Elumelu, African Entrepreneur and a Philanthropist; and Jane Naana Opoku-Agyeman,Minister of Education, Ghana. It was moderated by Lerato Mbele of the BBC.
Prof. Opoku Agyemang was optimistic that once “we can remove [English as the medium of instruction], we will change this country.”
The call to change the use of English language as a medium of instruction in school at all levels has been raging for years but there has always been a lack of political will to walk the talk.
The minister’s stance drew thunderous cheers from the gathering which included students and lecturers and members from the general public.
Countries such as Korea which used to be at par with Ghana are now way ahead in terms of development because they taught their school children using their native language, she recounted.
“Because the Koreans were taught in a language they understood, education picked up; because we are teaching our children a language they can’t event follow, we are drawing them back.
“The real change for me is not about reviewing the curriculum, it is not about extension of construction it is about relevant,” the Education Minister intimated.
She noted that Ghanaian children a bright but most of them are trapped in the basic school without being able to advance because they were “taught wrongly in a medium they couldn’t relate to”.
What would appear as a daunting task for the minister is settling on one out of the numerous languages spoken in the country. Ghana has over 46 dialects but English is the official language of Ghana and is universally used in schools in addition to nine other local languages. The most widely spoken local languages are: Ga, Dagomba, Akan and Ewe.
The Minister however did not mention or suggest any language she would want used as the medium of instruction in schools.
According to the World Bank, several African countries have seen significant successes in reducing extreme poverty, including Ghana, which reduced extreme poverty to 25.2 percent in 2005/06 from 47.3 percent in 1991/92 (under the $1.90 poverty line). But the region as a whole lags behind the rest of the world in progressing toward the goal.
Sub-Saharan poverty fell from an estimated 56 percent in 1990 to a projected 35 percent in 2015, according to the latest World Bank estimates, which are based on an extreme poverty line of $1.90 a day. Rapid population growth remains a key factor blunting progress in many countries.
After the hour-long lively debate, Lerato Mbele asked each panel member to suggest what Africa must do to end poverty.
Dr. Akinwumi Adesina was emphatic in his conviction, “Africa has no business with poverty so simply end it; there is no other thing more than that”
For the astute entrepreneur, Mr. Tony Elumelu, “We must create employment and we must embrace local value added industrialization.”
Dr. Jim Yong Kim wants Africans to “Listen to the young people; listen to the women.”
After years of working in the field of humanity, the former Vice Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast, Prof. Jane Naana Opoku-Agyeman, stressed, “In order for Africa to end poverty, it must focus on quality, relevant education delivered in the right medium.”