Ghana's education landscape has, over the years, seen a great amount of improvement, and a brief excursion to any 21st-century classroom will defend the claim that the country has indeed parted ways with the wilderness.
Subjects that broke our hearts and necks in the Gold Coast days have been flushed out of the system. Wooden chairs and tables, with all the nails that did injustice to our uniforms, are bequeathing their places to 'ultramodern, state-of-the-art' ones, with the traditional chalkboard peacefully surrendering to the whiteboard, and in a few classrooms, the projector, thanks to technology.
I am particularly glad that the tsunami of changes has not yet swept through one tradition and blown it off. While many others and I brood fears, we can be sure that 'Hour Day' has cemented its place in our schools, and from the look of things, Ama Ghana will not trade it for anything, not even for the finest wine. Her first children and grandchildren might have made that mistake, when they exchanged her precious gold for Schnapps, but that was then, when she was blind and was called The Gold Coast, and not today, when she has repented and assumed a new name, Ghana, to the praise and glory of her beautiful self.
I believe all of us, save our 'white' brothers and sisters who received 'white education' in a 'white land', have once been part of this fun, shared in its joy and merry, and today, the mere sight of our younger ones going to school in all the fancy dress in the name of 'Hour Day' resurrects memories of our times, when we observed the typical Gold Coast Hour Day, not necessarily for its pomp and glory, but for the fun and beauty of it.
We were just not partakers, we were also witnesses to how things were done; how meals for the feast were prepared at home, neatly packaged in hand-baskets (the Gold Coast ones used to serve our fathers then) and stylishly conveyed to school either by hand or by head, but all for one thing__ the 'fans' that attended our baskets on the streets, and the shouts that greeted us in the school upon our ultimate arrival. The spirit of oneness, forgiveness and brotherly love stood in the united manner teachers, friends and even foes sat at round tables to break bottles and 'bread', amid all the dance and shouts of joy. It was just beautiful! And so beautiful it was a sight to behold!
As much as we hail Ghana for maintaining this age-long tradition, we must be swift to criticise her for the direction the festival is stealthily taking us. Modernity appears to have waded into the end-time Hour Day, and a careful observer of the times will not only notice that the celebration is no longer an annual affair but a termly one, he will also be plagued with one major concern; how that a feast, which was once an exclusive preserve of the school, has found an escape route, and is now being observed in the streets and, if I'm not causing fear and panic, in the private rooms of classmates and 'non-classmates'.
It is not only disturbing, but also embarrassing and scary to see our school children cross one road after the other, pant after fried rice, biscuits, drinks and all kinds of items in bars, restaurants and malls, in the name of Hour Day, without any guardian, teacher or school authority attending them. In such distasteful stories, one might be tempted to eye our public schools as prime suspects. It must quickly be added, to cure all error and prejudice, that our private schools have found themselves in the race and are, in fact, already championing the cause.
That our children our scattered on the streets on the occasion of Hour Day is not the only worrying trend. The appearance of these kids for the festival has been an absolute shame and seeks to compel us to question the kind of decency and knowledge being given them to take up future responsibility.
If management and staff of public schools can be indicted for loose monitoring and supervision mechanisms, what then could account for such gross expression of indiscipline and indifference in our private schools, which have, time without number, prided themselves with adequate structures to make their system function?
While a plea goes to mothers to re-wind the clock and fetch notes of the times when parents and guardians got themselves busy in the kitchen to make themselves and their children proud on the momentous occasion of Hour Day, stakeholders of our schools, both public and private, are humbly admonished to make a swift return to the decision room and do good to all deficiencies in their monitoring and supervision systems, just to save the face of our beloved country. God bless our Homeland Ghana.
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