There isn’t any well capturing definition of education out there that I’ve come across—and not that I have not seen several of them. The problem is; the structure, meaning and substance of education changes with the tick of time. But this seems not to be the case for that hell of thing we call education in Ghana.
If pushed to the wall, I would opt to define education as; the acquisition of knowledge and valuable skills, socialisation and moral development—with discipline being the cornerstone…
Socrates was right when he made the assertion; “knowledge is virtue” and this perfectly makes a greater number of “Ghanaian educates” virtuous but less skilful and valuable, as our educational system is very much about acquisition of knowledge through the mastering of dead men theories and arguments—leaving behind critical thinking and analysis.
Throughout my Education in Ghana (to College level), I did not see any drastic shift in teaching and learning methods when in fact, there ought to have been as I progressed. What is expected at each stage of the educational ladder must be different and I am not talking about the complexity of what is being taught and learned. I am referring to how the impacting and consuming have to take place.
In Charles Dickens’ 1854 published “Hard Times”, he states among other things that children must be parked with as much knowledge as possible as this gives room to both character and sound education. That is children, but this is how I feel I was treated throughout, during my education in Ghana.
I wouldn’t want to hear the lack of facility argument because to be frank, we do not have exceptionally poor educational facilities in Ghana, it is our teaching methods, understanding of education and learning methods that somewhat makes us leave the various openly praised educational courtyards as dumb as cockroaches.
You can call it bragging but I must say, I had my College education at one of the best Senior High Schools in Ghana-Adisadel College, and I left there with a distinction. Now you want to know what this distinction meant I knew?
I could recite the whole Economic text book; I could make good Albert Venn Dicey photocopying arguments—word for word as written in the Government text book. I studied Geography and had an A there too, which meant, I was walking around at the time with a mirror version of Bennett’s mind—not that I perfectly understood any of the structures, developments and arguments in Geography.
When it came to my last Elective subject which was Elective Mathematics, I had to remember various “mathematical formulas” though I did not understand how most of these formulas came to be. I just had to know the strict formulas and make little alterations with different numbers when there is a problem to be solved.
This was what I was expected to do; my friends who went to Opoku Ware, Mfanstipim School, Yaa Asantewaa Girls, Achimota School and the many great schools in Ghana had to do the same. In fact, that is how things used to be then and I doubt if anything has changed today. This was the same way we excelled from Primary to College, nothing in the methods changed except the content.
Ironically, those who were obtaining what I call “real education” were the least respected on campus—and I mean, the Vocational or Visual Art students. These students could do a lot with their hands and were expected to understand how things work. They were exceptionally creative, worked as a team, mostly using their own initiatives but the system was unfair to them to the extent that, most were not proud of what they were studying and they hated the methods. Some of my friends who were studying such courses were often caught lying to girls about what they were indeed studying—that was how deep they had to go to stay relevant. When in fact, they were the true winners…
When we came out of the various great educational institutions, we knew we have had 3 long years of education but we knew nothing on our own—except if we woke up and realized all the text books were gone, we could reproduce them word for word, with ease.
Even with a distinction hovering around my head at the time, I did not know how to construct a basic CV and considering the fact that a good number of Ghanaians end their education at this level, how were these people going to find jobs when they have no clue about CV making?
Today, at what stage of the Ghanaian educational system do they teach some of the basic skills needed to fetch one a job, when the many years of chew and pour ends for that person? I can still define Osmosis, Diffusion and try to make sense out of them all from my understanding of the words and examples but the key thing is; I know this by chew and pour—and not by any sort of real evaluation.
I am not saying you come out of Ghanaian schools being totally dumb but the number of years you spend there does not mirror the true state of the education you are given—making you somewhat disadvantaged in my experience and in my opinion.
From Nursery to the College level, books are converted into words and thrown at those doing the learning; the learners are expected and must catch these words in the air, store them in memory and exactly reproduce them back for the teacher on the day of assessment.
The most brilliant student in a Ghanaian class is the individual who has good memory and can solely reproduce what he has read or been told in an exact manner—not the deep thinker with any sort of strong analytical and curious mind.
The majority of Ghanaian students leave school knowing exactly the same thing, and they are expected to stand out when in a crowd. I am not sure how hundreds of the same bottles can be any different and produce any different result.
Those in charge of Ghana began screwing us up from day one with that sort of robotic programming we call Ghanaian education and no wonder we are somewhat dumb—especially those of us who claim to have been well educated, in line with the worthy Ghanaian style.
The basic questions are; at what stage of your education in Ghana were you taught how to make a common CV? And was chew and pour your greatest learning tool?