Being Educated in Ghana Makes You as Dumb as a Cockroach

Education in Ghana
Education in Ghana

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?


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16 thoughts on “Being Educated in Ghana Makes You as Dumb as a Cockroach”

  1. Well said it is all about chew and pour in Ghana. You do not really have to think deep, just memorize things and be able to write them back to pass every exams. That is really a bad way of learning but that has been going on for many years. About the CV, I left Ghana during my mid SHS education from a girls school near Kumasi and I was not taught CV making, I was not also taught that in JSS too. Maybe I left with a cockroach mind too

  2. Nice article. However my dear, I believe that the points you have highlighted are not just a Ghana specific issue but is true of the majority of educational systems around the world. The real point is that traditional education, specifically relating to what we could loosely define as ‘non-vocational subjects’, teaches us to memorise information rather than actually understanding it, its significance or origin. How many of us have left reputable educational establishments with a 2:1 or 1st class only to find several years later we have forgotten 70% of the information we ‘studied’ (memorised) during the course. Living in the West I have actually found that most of my friends left school without having a CV that is readable and typo-free…such people who have in fact benefited from a Western education system. Robert Hutchins said
    ‘The object of education is to prepare the young to educate themselves throughout their lives’ and the real learning comes when we have left school and we invest our own time in edification of ourselves outside of the classroom, which many of us rarely have the time to do.

  3. this couldnt be farther from the truth. Our education system is not perfect yet all ghanaian students, infact it is well documented that immigrants from West Africa are one of the top groups academically in the United States and most ghanaians you meet in college are really smart.

      • well sorry for not reading the article before responding just that the title was a bit alarmist in nature. The fact of the matter is well trained teachers are need. Most private schools are taught by JSS leavers, government schools with trained teachers lack the tools needed. Ghanaian educatinal system all revolves around WASSCE AND BECE. Just one test determines a person’s life. in effect schools center education around preparing students to pass these tests.

  4. Great Article, our education system needs a reform. I still don’t remember what I was taught in school, but I passed out with great grades

  5. Chris is is another excellent piece from you and I love it. The education system in Ghana does not teach you anything new. The same old things are taught over and over again. All you have to do is take notes, go and chew all the notes and come back to pour it back to the same teacher word to word. Mostly, there is nothing like plagiarism in Ghana’s education because everyone is producing word to word answers.

    You will finish school in Ghana with good grades when you do not actually know anything for sure. very sad

  6. I can so much agree with you on this paragraph; 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.

  7. the system in Ghana can best be described as judging a fish by its ability to climb a tree. in the end it will always live its life thinking it is stupid. Am yet to see government make a change in the system to suit the country and how we can apply that in the world too.

  8. Ghana education: composition and comprehensions. no essay, report writing and research from the student. furthermore most pupils entering the S.H.S don’t get enough information about course selection, etc. for example home economics is not about studying food and nutrition a lone it’s also about clothing and textiles and thus one can opt for either one of them. In England at lest there is some form of information about a school or college, courses , outcome of a course and careers.


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