…The teacher or the child and the knowledge and skills transfer approach that links the two for productive education
In Einstein’s view, “insanity is doing something over and over again and each time expecting different result”. Indeed, we have been in this state for a long time as far as education in this country is concerned and have always blamed someone else for our luck of progress.
As a people, we have not been able to make a holistic and effective change to our educational system to focus on practice for a long time even when there were all indications for the need to do so. Surely, if we did, would have had the good results we expected. In earnest, such changes in educational systems of countries that are now called higher income countries, like Singapore, China and South Korea have yielded good results before our eyes. Why we have waited for this long still remains a mystery.
A cultural revolution
Culturally, in our notion, an inquisitive child is regarded as a difficult child or naughty one to handle in the house and deserved to be stopped by all means. This is simply because we do not yet know how to handle children and children with special needs, skills and talents.
Most of all, most of us still believe children are not to be heard at home or at the family levels and particularly when everyone is gathered. Significantly, a cultural revolution targeting some of these issues could be good for us in the 21st Century.
We need as a people to rise up and seize this opportunity and allow children to freely and confidently take the mantle of leadership, which is what the curriculum seeks to do. We need to recognise these both home and school to help the situation. Proactively, facilities should be created to absorb every Ghanaian child irrespective of their capabilities or locations into the system if we really need a progressive change.
For citizenship lessons in the curriculum, children will be taught to be citizen and not spectators and it would be expected that issues that have saddled our country should be boldly elaborated in the textbooks to be published.
For instance, children must be told why we are not developing as a country after six decades. In addition, we should be courageous enough to clearly state what we have done to ourselves for all these years to remain where we are. To be specific, bribery and corruption should be tackled at the basic level and be explained in plain terms detailing how we as a people let ourselves and country down.
Thus, everyone, right from independence to current state is responsible and it must be stated and how from homes streets and offices. Again, a chunk of the curriculum should be dedicated to why we pay taxes and what they should be used for and once more how these taxes been misappropriated over the years should be explained.
Certainly, there has been logistics issues raised by stakeholders and luck of enough consultations in the adoption and implementation of the curriculum, and these must not be swept under the carpet. Currently, there are no textbooks and that has generated a lot of concerns for parents and teachers.
Take for instance, in most areas of the country children still sit under trees to learn though what the current curriculum requires to produce critical thinkers cannot be conducted under such conditions. Long distances, luck of teachers and teaching materials are still problems we are looking at as hindrances to the implementation of the curriculum.
Incentives for teachers
We have always faced the problem of incentives for teachers to accept posting and also remain in classrooms, and the success of the current curriculum will be in the balance if teachers are not in class to deliver the tools. More so, how supervision is done and how committed we are as a people in getting all institutions working for our good are not robust enough for the curriculum to be honest.
The role of government
The Government of Ghana needs to sit up and ensure the current curriculum meets its intended purpose. The policy will require a frame work to guide it to success. It will need to identify both active and passive stakeholders and challenge them with clearly state duties and responsibilities in the coming months and years.
The role of industry
This time round, industry must not wait to recruit final products of the system, which may not suit their demands and must therefore play significant role in defining the right path to satisfy their labour needs right from the start.
For far too long, industry in Ghana has not appreciated its position in getting the right breed of men and women to feel gaps and champion its course in the growth and development of the economy. At a distance, there cannot be automatic generation of effective and efficient tailor-made industry-ready graduates therefore direct engagement should start now and at the basic level as well.
The role of traditional authorities
Most of our traditional rulers and opinion leaders have remained strangers to our educational systems for all these decades and believe they have no role to play’ Yes, get me wrong and I will prove to you that some of them have even perpetrated acts that are detrimental to schools and children and no one cares because they do not understand their position in getting our future leaders in school today.
To this effect, regular visits by traditional leaders will do us good in the classrooms and beyond. Crucially, donations and education trust funds like some have done will take us far in getting our critical thinkers in the system.
The role of the cane
The cane has never and can never facilitate critical thinking both in theory and in practice. It is only peace, love and serene environment that allow children to organise their minds for the practice of anything of good sort. Likewise, bed time stories for children at home, dancing, playing, creating fun, recreational facilities, will always help in learning process. To illustrate, teaching and collecting household items to learn about shapes and relating them to part of the house, schools and public buildings certainly make children reflect on solving real life problems even at the formative stages of their lives.
The link between education and practice
Looking at the objective, content and pedagogy of the standard-based curriculum, one comes to appreciate the missing link in the previous content-based curriculum and prays that we give this one not just a chance now but a big push. Generally, the focus of the current curriculum is mainly to link theory or classroom teaching to performance in the house and market for that matter industry and society.
Accordingly, most of our leaders are not performing because they cannot connect the two since they were not taught to do so in school. Also, most of us cannot think critically due to the fact that we were bombarded with theory and never gave a chance to think and figure things out, which has since accounted for our inability to manage and innovate with available recourses in our environment or extract and utilise our natural resources. Sadly, we do not even believe we can or should begin to start anything.
The strengths of each region
One thing we can also factor into the current curriculum will be the identification and use of our talent in critical thinking taking into consideration the strength and opportunities that our regions have. Without doubt, every region has a particular potential to be exploited and stakeholders will need to help in channeling recourses to let the young take advantage. We have regions that have a lot of potential in the primary sector, some in the secondary and others in the service sector, and more could be done to concentrate in those lines in the curriculum.
It is no wonder answers to our examination questions in Ghana at all levels are ready before we sit to find them under “strict invigilations”. We all passed our examinations answering questions that required no critical thinking at all but reproduction of existing “book knowledge”. Even, in most of these examination exercises there is nothing relating to our environments and its problems. Emphatically, the time has come for us to look within and fashion out how to direct our education to our local and national problem solving.
This should not be left to one category of our society but to all of us as a nation. Henceforth, the dilemma of whether it is the teacher or the learner this time can be pinned down first to the entire society, which makes up the environment, then come the teacher who has the power, authority and direct access to the minds of learners. Moreover, we need to accept that the leaner is vulnerable, helpless, curious, and above all innocent at the formative stages and need extra care to realise their potential.
The author is a consultant in university entrepreneurship and business development.