Opinion | An Open Letter To The Minister Of Education
Dear Minister of Education,
I send you greetings from my Asebu village. I am writing this letter to draw your attention on a few things that would move our educational sector forward. I am motivated by a recent video done by an ignoramus who seems to have made it in life without the help of the things he learnt in school. Such people even though would send their children to the best schools, would always want to mock the system.
I want to make a few suggestions that would make the NPP Era very different from the NDC.
1. Chalks & Blackboards
At the basic level, chalks and blackboards in the 21st century pose one of the biggest threat to female-well dressed classroom attendance. It reduces teacher confidence and causes a lot of distractions to the teaching-learning process. It makes the teacher very dirty especially with the use of charcoal.
It could also be dangerous to the health of the teacher when dry cell batteries are used. Particles of charcoal can also cause damages to the eye.
I am therefore by this letter appealing to your high office to consider switching to the use of white boards and markers to boost teacher confidence in front of the class. A confident teacher is more likely to attract the attention of the students which would go a long way to ensure good grasp of what is being taught.
Second, I suggest the government help private Ghanaians to set up at least 2 factories to produce markers for supply directly to the GES. This would also help create employment for the local people and boost the use of made in Ghana products.
2. Technical/ Vocational Education
To make a big impact and propel us to our needed development, we must seriously embrace technical/vocational education. At the moment, most students of technical schools lack the requisite confidence and tools and equipment to be able to produce responsible students who would contribute meaningfully to their Ghanaian economy.
People make fun of technical students especially coming from SECTECHS. A lot of people don’t have respect for students of Sectechs! Further, for a student of these institutions to break through the normal tertiary system, they have to go through T1, T2 &3, then sometimes, HND, etc.
It takes them an average of about 7-10yrs to break through the normal tertiary system after JHS whilst their SHS counterpart spends just 3 years at the SHS level and goes straight to the universities for another 3 years.
In the interim, as a short term gradual process measure, let’s make a small declaration that would allow some mainstream good SHS to admit at least 2 classes of Technical students in some selected best schools (grade A schools) across the country. Mfantsipim does it better. They have two classes each of Technical and virtual Arts.
Second, equip such grade A schools with the required tools and equipment to be able to help train people in ceramics, applied electricity, block work, woodwork, metalwork, technical drawing, graphic designs etc.
Third, provide the schools with highly trained technical teachers with special incentives. The integrated system is aimed at boosting the morale of the students for learning. At the moment, a lot of people including parents have negative attitudes towards 100% technical/vocational schools.
They believe only “dumb, drab and dull” students must be sent to technical or vocational school. In rural set ups like where I come from, families are likely to send students with aggregate 06-20 to “better schools” and then we would see if we can send those with aggregate 40+ to AsuTech, CapeTech or some SecTech and NVTI school sitting in some village looking for students intake!
Such students are used for donkey jobs and are mostly good and respected only during sports! This attitude must change! We must first attempt to integrate technical education into the mainstream SHS schools especially with only grade A schools allowed to handle at least two classes each of technical and vocational education.
Fully-Fledged Technical Schools
Yes, eventually, in the long term, and ideally, it is good to have a technical or vocational institution to train such students. The challenges of technical/vocational schools in this country are like Osama Bin Ladin trying to bomb the White House! Most technical/vocational schools lack quality teachers.
There are inadequate tools and equipment that would aid teaching and learning, they lack infrastructure/facilities to facilitate the teaching of technical subjects. This makes the integrated approach more practical and Ghanaian. At least the mainstream schools have quality mathematics, physics and other teachers who are mostly experienced and well motivated!
Ghana need a good array of technical schools with beautiful architectural designs attractive to both good quality teachers and students!
Mr Minister, we have a proverb in this country that *if the drum face is there, you don’t beat the side and side, you have to beat the middle “pempedempa, pempedempa*”… Since independence, we have not been able to raise technical/vocational schools to the levels at which they can contribute meaningfully to the economy of Ghana.
We can draw lessons from Singapore, Finland, China and other countries that embraced technical education long time ago. Most of these countries now have higher GDPs and per capita incomes due to the seriousness which they gave to technical education a long time ago! Let’s begin to beat the “drum face” today for a brighter tomorrow! The “side and side” of the drum have been beaten for a very long time.
Yours village servant
Kingsley Kofi Karikari-Bondzie (Asebu)
(B.Ed Social Studies/ M. A HRM)