You would agree with me that “good education” is essential for a well-run society.
Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs and habits.
History of education.
Education began in prehistory, as adults “trained the young in the knowledge and skills deemed necessary in their society”. In pre-literate societies, this was achieved orally and through imitation. Story-telling passed knowledge, values, and skills from one generation to the next. As cultures began to extend their knowledge beyond skills that could be readily learned through imitation, formal education developed.
It’s not surprising that our forefathers and great grandparents were able to craft ceramics, pots, weave baskets, etc to meet their needs.
When the Basel Missionaries visited the Shai Hills in the 19th century, they were flabbergasted at the way the local women were able to produce elegant pottery without the potter’s wheel or kiln(Prof. J.A Anquandah).
Today, after spending long years in schools, we become a burden and the problems of society continue to increase. The hard truth is that sometimes we don’t know what we learn about. In a class, students were asked to describe how the mass spectrometer works? And a Ghanaian student did that excellently. When they got to the lab, the professor asked him to fix it, he couldn’t.
What we the Africans have refused to understand about education is the skills development aspect. Our educational system is passive and linear. The way a lot of schools and teachers operate is not necessarily something we can properly call education, trying to drill learning into people according to sophisticated theories and plans drawn up by others. The crises of education are numerous; crises about the content, crises in meaning, crises about the purpose, what to teach and what we are sending children to school for?
Education in Africa has become a “chew and pour affair”. we copy theories that have nothing to do with our lives and paste them on the blackboards for students to learn. And students who devote much time to chew, pour out more during exams. And after exams, everything vamooses into thin air.
This is what Paulo Freire coined as the banking system-making deposits of knowledge. The prime purpose of education is to bring out or develop potential and to make people critical and analytical thinkers. It is a process of inviting truth and possibility, of encouraging and giving time to discovery.
We have technical Universities in Ghana but what have those universities introduce in the system.
when I was in UDS, I read a course titled dynamic modelling of the environment. In fact, is a course that is primed on using models to understand environmental problems and the analysis of several environmental problems, including surface-water pollution, matter-cycling disruptions, and global warming. And if we had practically learned that course, we would become good forecasters and identify challenging environmental situations ahead of time. An example is a tree that broke to kill students at Kitampo waterfall in March 2017.
On the course outline, it was stated that it is fully practical and computer-based but for lack of materials, it will be pure classroom-based and theoretical. So whilst the Americans, Japanese, Germans, Chinese, are inventing and producing sophisticated machines that can detect complex situations ahead of time, the Africans are producing tomatoes, onions, peppers, garden eggs, etc.
Students from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) cannot compete with students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) despite all being a technical university. This is because the latter is well equipped with tools and equipment to facilitate the learning process.
In black society, the attainment of a college degree is seen as such a momentous occasion that our young people never go on to achieve anything worthwhile after obtaining the degree. The attainment of a college degree, be it a graduate degree or a postgraduate degree, is viewed with so much admiration, so much pedigree and so much respect by both friends and family, that the individual sits down and never feels the need to go on and contribute anything whatsoever after accomplishing the “fit”. It is as if the college degree itself validates the individual’s existence. It is as if the degree delivers an undoubted endorsement to the societal worthiness of the individual that society no longer demands anything worthwhile from the individual afterwards. It is this high regard in which the college is held in black society that explains broadly and widely the scarcity of economic, social and scientific exploits by the highly regarded and overly admired graduates in the black community. In other societies; the Chinese, the Indian, the Japanese, if you demand respect and/or recognition, you are required to demonstrate in very practical terms what you have done with your mind. Who have you employed and how many? What are the numbers? What have you published? What product have you launched? What innovation hails from your name? What policies have you advocated or legislated and many more?
Following the civil war in Somalia that broke out in 1991, several Somalis emigrated to South Africa. They soon established themselves in the commercial sector, creating opportunities for themselves and opening their stores. The Somalis came with nothing. But they now own almost 90% of the 20 floor and residential flats in Johannesburg, Lesotho, Swaziland and Maputo.
Africans have to be humble and admit that they have been fed the wrong doctrine of education and the desire to get a degree certificate is what students strive for. Higher education is not everything. If so, why are degree holders treated with disdain? why do degree holders carry envelopes and knock on the doors of plazas, banks, and car dealerships owned by uneducated Pakistanis, Chinese and Lebanese asking for a job?
The richest woman in the world is Susan Walton, the heiress of Walmart. Her net wealth is approximately $33.8 billion. The richest woman to have created her wealth ($8 billion) is Zhou Qunfei, the founder of Lens Technologies – the maker of glass covers for Apple and Samsung phones. She grew up in a small village in China, dropped out of high school to work in a lens factory to provide for her family after her father became physically disabled due to an industrial accident – a true self-made billionaire!
To talk about Bill Gate, the richest man in the world will be a waste of time.
Amancio Ortega, founder of clothing Chain Zara and one of the richest men in the world dropped out of school at about age 14 and began working in a shirt store. Eventually, Ortega decided he would gain enough experience to start his fabric mill, alongside family members and his future wife, Rosalia Mera, an unsung hero of the Zara Ortega story.
In Ghana, drop out of school to chase your dreams and you will not eat for the whole week in the house. Our educational system only sees academicians-those who top the class. Those at the bottom are seen as dunderheads. After SHS, students who fail the WASSCE don’t know what to do with their life scape and pride will not let them enter into trade. Unfortunately, most ladies fall prey to the hands of unscrupulous guys.
Now we have free education but is not enough when measured with the magnitude of “quality education” where skills development is key. Many of the schools in Ghana have no access to the computer laboratory. That is why when some students go for an interview and are being asked to boot a computer, they become confused as to whether to use their legs to boot the computer or what. A teacher using a Stone to demonstrate to students the use of a mouse and other comical things in our educational system should tell you the level of education in Africa.
Our educational system needs reorientation, is not about the numbers.
The college degree is still viewed as a “Holy Grail” in the black society and is evident by how fast and how vicious people rush in its defence.. !!!
I fear and tremble when I see young graduates shout, “Mama, I made it” on their graduation day. On Facebook, you will see countless pictures with writings.
A few blocks from where I lived in Kumasi, is an immigrant of Lebanese origin. He did not attend College. He doesn’t even have a high school diploma. But he drives a 2014 Range Rover. Lives in a 7 bedroom mansion and sends his kids to the most expensive private school in the country.
His occupation, guess!
Your guess is as good as mine. He has a shop downtown, Adum that sells textiles. Yes, the poor quality clothes that African women buy for their tailors to turn into colourful African wear. A non-African selling to Africans what Africans must wear.
The irony is biting. But that’s how he makes his millions. You and I who shouted, “Mama I made it” on our graduation days, are living in rented apartments, driving leased Japanese cars and shout Thank God Is Friday when we get paid every month so we can buy our girlfriends some cheap KFC at a franchise run by another uneducated entrepreneur.
This time, a Chinese immigrant.
The touted graduates are living rented lives Which is why am critical of the education system, of the way African parents school their children, the lack of ambition, lack of reach, and lack of hunger for financial enterprise from the African folk. Africans have swallowed a misleading demur viz; that more academic education will result in economic freedom. We ate the wrong doctrine.
A Balderdash of a doctrine, it’s what I call it. The proper phrase to shout on graduation day must be “Mama, I ate it”. It is financial education, not academic education that produces
financially independent people.
I see too many apologetics in the current educational system. The way I see it, you can either be an apologetic or a revolutionary. The world never remembers apologetics, it only remembers revolutionaries and the latter is what am professing and advocating.
The number of college degrees is not nearly as important as how well students develop cognitive skills, such as critical thinking and problem-solving ability (Derek Bok).
Until we inject technology and skills development into our educational system, we will be less competitive and the strive for excellence will continue to be a heavy millstone on our necks.
Credit to Samuel Buah