Education and Management with Nii Armah Addy….Politics over education: the perception argument

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Nii Armah Addy is an Education and Management expert

Quality education holds the key to national development. Providing quality education requires resources both material and human. Resources are scarce as we are told by the economists of old so it stands today. Countries that develop through education make choices as to what to spend their scarce resources on. In same vein, no country develops with political upheavals, civil wars and bad system of governance.

Ghana constituted the hybrid system of governance modelled on the British and American democracies. This allows for a four (4) term of office for a maximum of two (2) for a President/Prime Minister. Elections are used as a means to change and/or maintain a   government. Quality elections of informed populations reflect their choice of leadership of government.

In Ghana, the quality of members of parliamentary from some constituencies is attributed to poor education and the lack of appreciation of the work of parliament for which reason party politics rides over reasoning. But for the lack of education, how could a semi illiterate win a parliamentary election over highly educated professional? The perception is that if majority of Ghanaians gain at least secondary school level education, it will speed up the development agenda of the country which in-turn will reflect in the choice of leadership of governance.

This article takes into account the wider perception of Ghanaian view of the needed education for development being placed as a denominator of politics and also the view that educational decisions by government are directed at political gains rather than what the education is intended to achieve for national development. While perceptive argument has ranged about secondary school education, professional levels of education has become mundane to the detriment of qualified candidates awaiting the opportunity for the expansion of professional education to match the speedy growing population.

In the foregoing paragraphs under three (3) subheadings, I will discuss the perceptive argument of politics over education from 2017-2020 in Ghana and draw conclusion on the firm belief that Ghana’s education will best thrive when dissociated from politics and made a National Development Agenda under the watch of an independent body devoid of political machinations. The big question is whether or not in proportionate order Ghana as a country has invested more in party political gains than developing educational infrastructure within the given period.

  1. Organised past questions

Was it educationally and financially prudent for government to use scarce national resource to distribute organised past questions for secondary school students as part of their educational materials? In my candid opinion such expenditure was a waste of scarce national resources. What was the rational for procuring and distributing organised past questions for students?

The history of past examination questions in Ghana has been in three (3) fold as;

  • Students secure their own past questions,
  • Seniors hand it down to junior students, and
  • Filed copies in the school library.

In any of the three attempts outlined above, the consequence of securing the past questions and its usage is largely the responsibility of students. The reliance on the past question is not the responsibility of the school and/or government.

In recent years when government secured past questions for students as source material for examination preparation, the responsibility shifted from students and placed the onus on government as an authentic source for the examination preparation.

This endeavour by government raised a perceptive argument to be an attempt to gain political favour from the students rather than developing educational quality. Also, the attempt by government gave the students a sense of ownership which may have pushed them to behave unruly when the examination questions were not selected from the past questions. The students felt deceived and were therefore disappointed hence their outburst which was distasteful.

In is important to note that if the pamphlets are the property of the government they will remain in the school for succeeding students to use even then it will have to be updated yearly with each passing year’s examination papers. If regular update will be maintained won’t it be a huge cost to the national coffers? Digitizing the past questions to encourage students’ information technology usage by frequently accessing the past questions online will be cost effective hence the proclivity to information technology usage at the secondary schools.

The cost of securing the past questions for schools could have gone a long way to develop educational infrastructure which will have augmented existing structures for developing quality education.

  1. Election registration in secondary schools

The underlying tool of democracy is the right to vote therefore let no eligible voter be disenfranchised. It is important not to disenfranchise any qualified Ghanaian who have attain the voting age. But to the extent that the Electoral Commission of Ghana went to schools to register students there raised question. Reasons were attributed to Covid-19. A counter argument was the neglect of physically disabled persons who were not also coordinated for the ease of voter registration.

The situation of registering students who qualify to vote in school is not a problem per se but for the fact that politicians went to the schools to campaign to students to vote for the incumbent president gave reasons to raise eye brows. This attempt put politics over education. The perceptive argument then was that by forcefully sending students to school under the pretence of preparation for the WASSCE was a political move to favour the government.

It was at the threatening height of the covid-19 pandemic and the knowledge of infection by some students sent scare to parents who wanted to have their children home but was denied access by authorities. The worrying situation precipitated many social commentaries which negated the supposed educational gains to political skirmishes.

 

  1. The cost of new voter register

Now the big question is whether or not in proportionate order Ghana as a country has invested more in party political gains than developing educational infrastructure within the given period. Millions of US Dollars was spent for a new voter register for the 2020 Presidential and Parliamentary elections. Opinions has been varied as to whether investing that huge sum of money in the face of educational resource constraints was a good decision.

The resultant effect of the new voter registration has also been met with varied opinions as to whether the exercise was worth it. The answer is the government word against the opposing views. Who is the best depends on who the judge is.

My greatest joy would have been to see an electoral role which will permit people who turn eighteen (18) a day before the election to have access to vote. This means that a national digital biographic data be captured and effectively functional at all given time. In my humble view, anything short of this is a waste of everybody’s time and scarce national resources.

In conclusion, it has been argued that the boarding house system of secondary school education is gradually losing its flavour and therefore advocating for community day secondary school. If this argument is anything to go by, then the big question is why the incumbent government did not spend a year to complete the two hundred (200) community day secondary schools started by its predecessor? Would this have lessened the myriad of challenges of the double track system?

The spending has already been done with the new voter register but in future, we need to as a nation rigorously think through our development priorities and see which one gives a lasting solution to our problems rather than investing in ephemeral things.

On the score of the perception argument, it is my firm judgement that the period under review has placed politics over education. Granted that they have the opportunity of governance in the future, collectively we will put education over politics.

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