As we celebrated Founder’s Day this year, the horrific scenes at the Black Stars Square a week ago, replayed in my mind’s eye like a horror movie. I wondered whether we are trading our ancestors’ vision of politics of progression for the politics of numbers.
The week past saw many students and guardians stranded, some blacked out as a result of a strenuous registration manual process and irregularities associated with the Senior High School placement system and its accompanying large enrollment into SHS this year. It was simply embarrassing. Obviously, it added to the list of challenges facing the new free SHS policy novelty, a policy touted as a game-changer.
If the mess that occurred at the Square was a staged sabotage by the largest opposition party, NDC, as some few ‘NPPians’ claim, it only speaks of the ‘koobi and momone politics’ (stinking politics) practised in Nkrumah’s Africa. Otherwise, it is a clear case of attempting to dodge responsibility and accountability on the part of appropriate bodies like the Ghana Education Service (GES), the executive arm of government, and the Ministry of Education (MOE). The latter sounds more convincing though. Thus, it should not be enough to apologize for a poor planning and an awful execution.
Gradually, our educational system which was once regarded as one of the most highly developed and effective in West Africa, is waning in substance, efficiency and in quality end results. It hasn’t received the freedom and bipartisanship that it deserves to realize its full economic potential. The system has recorded major disturbances depending on which government reigns. In the year 2000, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) changed senior secondary education from three years to four years. When the National Democratic Congress (NDC) took over leadership in 2008, the decision was changed back to three years.
Reforms year after year aims at increasing the access to education among those who can not afford it. It is commendable. However, the process of implementation has always been a major issue.
What happened at the Black Stars, ironically where Nkrumah proclaimed our ability to manage our own affairs as Ghanaians and blacks, was a clear sign of poor leadership and implementation of the new initiative. In fact, this according to research accounts for the major set ups in policy and change. According to Fullan and Stiegelbauer (1991), Educational change focuses on the human participants taking part in the change process.
On my first level of analysis as a development communications student, parents were taken aback by the many irregularities on the day which meant the level of prelim stakeholder-engagement on the nature and procedure to the adopted on the day was low if not zero. I expected such novelty should have had the major stakeholders (parents) thoroughly briefed and the best of electronic registration module adopted in the first place. They and our brothers and sisters were stranded due to the lack of proactiveness on the part of the GES and by extension the supervising Ministry.
Secondly, the trajectory of history is being drifted from. According to history books, Ghana under the leadership of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was comparable to countries that strategically reformed their educational sector to accelerate economic and social development.
Nkrumah’s vision for the country was hinged on three nationalist drive: first, education was to be used as a tool for producing a scientifically literate population. Secondly, it was to be tailored towards tackling mainly the environmental causes of low productivity; and thirdly for producing knowledge to harness Ghana’s economic potential”. Though difficult to know where we are as a country, these plans were shaped largely by the Accelerated Development Plan for Education. This plan was implemented in January 1952 to provide quality education or enhance the rapid development of education at all levels. As a recommendation of the Amissah’s Committee Report, a free tuition education for children between ages of six (6) and twelve (12) and the amendments in the post-primary system was introduced.
In 1960, Nkrumah introduced the free compulsory primary and middle school education and also investment in good teachers all geared towards the promotion of quality primary education. To solve the facilities and infrastructure challenges that such policy came with, the founding father built a number of secondary schools under the Educational Trust in 1958; Among the many technical and vocational education reforms which set a propelling foundation for present state.
How did the founding fathers do that? The answer lies in the words of Adu-Gyamfi and Adinkra (2016). The answer lies in vision, adequate preparation and more importantly inclusive planning. They wrote: “at independence, Ghana had drawn plans of how education was going to effectively support the efforts to become a prosperous economy”. Indeed, the founding fathers despite the controversies, set a tone for a massive transformation in education in our country. What then is going wrong after these blocks were laid?
But over six decades since the reign of Kwame Nkrumah et al, the question still lingering on every nationalist student’s mind is has this country in the face of many fine and controversial leaders, inherited the succession plan to follow it up or recorded improvements that commensurate and falls in line with the progressive agenda already set by our forebears?
Maybe no! Maybe yes and no!
Kabu Nartey is a 2019 Kufuor Scholar Fellow. He is the 2019/2020 best graduating student in print journalism and the 2019 most promising journalist of GIJ