“One of the most powerful tools for empowering individuals and communities is making certain that any individual who wants to receive a quality education can do so.”
A very important feature, if not the most, of a strong social state, is that such a state guarantees and actualises the social and economic rights and freedoms of its citizens. In simple terms, the social state prioritizes the demands of the individual above all else.
Vital to this is being willing and able to understand how to provide educational services not only on a quantitative basis but very importantly, in the best possible way. The social state thus accepts education as its foremost task – prioritising its due organization as well as monitoring all education-related activities – so as to provide equal opportunities in order for all citizens to benefit as best as can be.
The value of education in a social state as Ghana
The significance of education cannot be under-emphasised, it being a process beginning at birth and ending with the death of the human being. It determines the sure path of a nation to prosperity by enabling individuals to gain new behaviour patterns, strengthening their positive behaviours, changing their negative ones and above all empowering them to be independent and self-sufficient. It sure is the most significant investment in human capital in any country such as Ghana.
Through the agency of education -a quality one for that matter- the abilities and latent potentials of the citizenry are harnessed thus contributing to the overall development of the social state through individuals by providing effective and productive members of society. Who knows, probably the investment in education so far could be the reason our beloved country Ghana has lived in peace as compared to some of its neighbours and other countries alike. It remains true that an uneducated people inflict self-harm and also endanger the society in which they live. Education is indeed the “humanization” of the human being. I dare say, it is the most crucial public service that any Government or state may choose to provide to its people.
In our days, it holds the most important place in all areas and essentially determines the future and fate of our nation thus should never diminish in its importance. Education is the sure way to achieving a democratic, political and social life as the true basis of development.
The right to education in Ghana & the state’s responsibility to provide
In Ghana today, a citizen’s use of educational rights and opportunities is the primary responsibility of the state. The true social state should be primarily responsible for the stages that determine the basic principles, planning, implementation and monitoring of education.
Strengthened by constitutional provisions, it is guaranteed that “all persons shall have the right to equal educational opportunities and facilities and with a view to achieving the full realization of that right – basic education shall be free, compulsory and available to all, secondary education in different forms, including technical and vocational education, shall be made generally available and accessible to all by every appropriate means and in particular higher education be made equally accessible to all, on the basis of capacity…in particular by the progressive introduction of free education.”
Qualitative education a must & priority
Thus, without a doubt, the recent introduction and implementation of the free senior high school education policy in Ghana is a great plus to the social state of Ghana and its commitment to meeting the expectations of its people.
That notwithstanding, one cannot become complacent and feel that the introduction of the free means all is well and done. That remains only a step in the right direction. The social state is highly expected to provide educational facilities at all levels and to the greatest extent, feasible make such facilities available to all.
Setbacks to achieving quality education in Ghana
The continuous politicisation of the responsibility for and control of the society’s education, the failure to diversify the education system, the failure to relate the educational curricular to the actual manpower needs of the state and economy, the poor conditions of service for teaching staff, the lack of effective teaching and learning infrastructure, the overall failure to collectively implement the national educational policy, amongst other problems remain a huge drawback to the attainment of the goals and expectations of the true social state as relates to provision of quality education for all.
The social state must unite at all cost to remove the barriers that remain which hinder the achievement of the goals of qualitative education. Achievements in the educational sector should never be mainly to score political points. Rather improvement in educational standards, provision of inclusive educational opportunities for all persons, ensuring stability in the sector devoid of regular teacher strikes and consistent substantial policy changes motivated by politics etc. should become a thing of the past.
The way forward
Provision of quality education for all should be seen as a fundamental right that should be unconditionally enjoyed by all members of the society, not dependent on which political party is in power and what political campaign promises were canvassed at election. In an environment where knowledge is at the forefront, it is very natural that education and educational rights are given top priority.
The right to education is a social right that a state must meet and fulfil at all cost. It has the closest relation to the right to life, which together are fundamental to human survival and also crucial for democracy and social progress. “Quality is never an accident, it is always the result of intelligent effort. Ignorance is bliss until it hits… The real education is the one that sets free.” And so, we must and at all cost make quality education possible for all!
Long Live Ghana! Long live the people of Ghana!!
Reginald Nii Odoi