Revivifying efficient teaching and learning: a nationalist’s view

GHANA AT 65: The system must work efficiently…a nationalist’s standpoint
Patrick OWUSU (PhD)

It is the desire of every thriving nation to have a highly literate or well-educated society to contribute towards national development. The capacity to raise the standard of living of citizens through the provisions of educational facilities, employment opportunities and other social amenities must be the reason for any government’s concentration on total education. It must therefore be noted that one of the greatest gears to set a body of inertia in every society to a higher velocity of excellence is a literacy frequency.

The ability to read and write is as a result of total education offered by trained or professional instructors. That is why I fully give my strong backing to the Free SHS policy, no matter its ensuing challenges. At least, the Free Education system at the basic level is giving the less privileged and the vulnerable Ghanaian child, easy access to taste formal education. This is a policy I give the present government, a huge thumb-up.

Education, which is one of the pillars of any great society doesn’t only enlighten the minds of learners to be responsible to themselves but also, it offers the latter, a higher leverage to be overly confident in their day-to-day activities. That is the reason why the left and the right sides of the brain must be actively involved in our transmission of information. The right side of the brain deals with creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship and colour. The left side of the brain deals with logic, arithmetic or mathematics.

Any experienced educator must therefore be abreast with human learning which are categorized into cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains.

Developing and delivering lessons by instructors are integral in the teaching process. The cognitive domain deals with the mental development of the learner to interpret issues around him. Cognitive domains therefore places emphasis on the acquisition of knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation of the subject taught. The affective domain deals with the feelings, emotions and attitudes of the learner.

In other words, the affective domain looks at how a learned response can be altered into habitual actions with proficiency, skill, aptitude and total confidence. That is where one’s originality comes into play by creating new movement patterns for a specific situation. Psychomotor learning on the other hand, is demonstrated by the physical skills involving arms, hands, fingers and feet.

With a combined effort from all and sundry, several nations across the world have been able to build a stronger erudite society. A typical example is Singapore whose major educational leap can be attributed to the efforts of their late president, Lee Kuan Yew. As a philosopher, he believed so much in building a literate society so he strove hard to put in place, good policies in making that island a safe haven to be in.  Do you know that today, Singapore has a literacy rate of 97.34%? What about Finland? It has a literacy rate of 99%. This is according to The high literacy rate is as a result of effective and efficient teaching and learning.

Our country (Ghana) can also learn from the successes of these two countries and if possible, discover which method if suitably applied can add value to ours. Remember, a literate and organized people are a blessing to their nation in diverse ways such as science and technology, business, culture/religion, family building, politics and governance. These struts or props, together with education form the pillars of every successful or efficacious society.

Major inventions or discoveries have all been possible by formal education, either informal or non-formal education. However, the eye of every successful community has been formal education which is largely carried out in a more structured environment between an instructor and a learner whose engagements are based on an acceptable academic curriculum or programme of study.

As an educator, I keep asking myself a lot of questions about our delivery of information to our learner(s). Are we properly playing our role or our negligence of duty is rather making today’s students very inactive thereby depending on cooked answers to write their examination. This is a dilemma that calls for a bigger spot light in determining the way out for a successful teaching and learning process.

Examination misconducts among students in recent times is my greatest worry. Interestingly, in the year, 2021, some leaked examinable papers which led to the cancellation and rescheduling of some elective subjects during the 2021 West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) has been a continuous worry to lovers of total education.

Now, the question is, who is to be blamed for all these predicaments? Hmmm… The Examination Council, the teacher, the learner, the managers of schools, the government or who?  Major stakeholders must be bold enough to air their views on this issue. This challenge calls for a serious intellectual debate with a committed heart to help implement certain policies to curtail the menace which is breaking the moral fibre of our society.

It is extremely sad the way things are completely getting out of hand. If this trend of unprofessional examination conduct which has now shifted to another gear is not speedily tackled, the question I will like to ask is, why should dependable instructors continue to waste their time in the classroom teaching?

As a matter of fact, why waste time preparing students for three good years, when, at the end of the day, they know where to have cooked answers to write their examinations? Could there be some unscrupulous or dodgy agents in our system who collect money from weak students in order to aid them have access to questions to write and easily pass their examinations? If that is the case, we are indeed producing weak minds with unmerited results who invariably go out there as imbalanced personalities.

How I wish the major Educational bodies in our beloved country take the trouble to go into this ‘annual ritual’ with full fervor or enthusiasm.

With this assurance from these individuals that I term as agents of darkness, most students, right from SHS 1 do not put in much efforts to study, once they are assured that the source of supply of cooked answers is very authentic and everything is fully packaged for them. What a world!

One wonders if these cooked answers are wired to these students at a fee or what? If it is, then, it may suggest that the higher you pay, the more questions you receive from this Machiavellian source, usually in a disguised form. If this is the norm in some schools, why should credible instructors waste their time, energy, and mental resources going to the classroom religiously to teach?

As a concerned nationalist, I was baffled when the other day, West African Examination Council (WAEC) published a list of schools indulging in examination malpractices which subsequently led to the cancellation of some examinable papers in 2021. Hmmm… Until certain stern measures are put in place to restore active independent learning from our students, it is absolutely a total waste of time teaching them.  We must begin to examine this yearly leakage of examinable questions, especially at the JHS and SHS levels and give it a stronger pilaster, once and for all.

As I travel around most of our country’s institutions to offer academic seminars and therapeutic or salutary sessions, I see most of the ordeals or challenges most credible teachers go through. Here are a few of them:

  1. Response to Duty

As it is required in all public sectors, the employee is mandated by law to respond to duty on time without failure, unless otherwise. Excused. Even with that, it must be officially backed by a written permission. 

  1. Query

The challenging part of an instructor’s work is when he or she is repetitively served with a query letter by their superior to respond for attending a class late. Though I do not encourage lateness to work and other unethical practices at the workplace, it must be known that a number of managers in our country’s schools, have no in-depth knowledge about People Management Skill.

These managers’ harsh way of dealing with their subordinates by constantly   issuing queries in a typed form without first of all, verbally demanding for their lateness, sometimes makes subordinates live in fear and panic. Why always ask your staff to write to you before understanding their quandary or difficulty, especially if it is a tangible one?

As leaders, we don’t have to be mean and high-handed, but rather, strive to understand the challenges of our staff. This does not suggest poor work attitude on the part of some members of staff. It must be noted that if the workplace becomes a hostile, unfriendly, or intimidating environment, your staff members become uncomfortable with your leadership style. In other words, people will come over to work but may not fully relate well with others. I hope every director or head of a school is learning from this lesson.

This does not suggest that managers of schools should be languid or lethargic with their work. A balanced effort through a good interpersonal relationship builds a stronger work force. It is important for managers of schools to develop an exceptional people-centred way of life which increases productivity at the workplace.

People Management skill therefore is an ability every leader should build in order to enjoy a good interpersonal relationship with one another. Thus, not every situation calls for an official letter. Instead, a manager or supervisor must gently meet a staff member to undercover their continual challenges.

Sometimes, a confidential meeting with the affected staff in a manager’s office to enquire about his or her plight may change their attitude towards work. This means that not every situation calls for a subordinate being pushed to write in explaining his or her actions.

Remember, an imperialistic rule paralyzes the emotional states of employees. Therefore, leaders must learn to be close to their staff members whilst maintaining a high code of conduct.  Any unfriendly word from a superior makes their staff continuously live in discomfort, discomposure or perpetual fear. When query letters outclass their value, the integrity of the leader goes below the bar.

  1. Class Exercises

In order to receive the right feedback from a lesson treated, instructors give regular exercises for marking. It is a difficult one but very fulfilling, especially when learners are giving the right responses.

  1. Academic Seminars

Most of the best instructors attend seminars in order to receive information to improve upon their worth. Seminars open their minds to new ways of teaching and acquisition of new skills.

  1. Co-curricular activities

In most of the schools I have visited, there are clubs and societies. These clubs offer our students the opportunity to exhibit the gifts and potentials thereby learning new waves or skills outside their normal classroom work. Some of these clubs include Red Cross, Science and Maths Club, Cadet Corps, Debaters’ Club, and Religious groups. Red Cross Society for example, teaches students to be compassionate as they act as first aid supporters to their fellow students, more especially at sporting and other social events.

Debaters club also teaches students to exercise their intellectual prowess in weighing social issues from a broader perspective. It does make them become active public speakers as well. The religious activities on the other hand, train our students to build a relationship with their Maker thus teaching them to respect one another and to live in peace and harmony with others, regardless of their backgrounds.

These clubs and societies among others (not mentioned over here) shape the thoughts, oddities, and personalities of our students in becoming more accountable to themselves and the society at large. It must be known that the success of all these societies and clubs are attributed to the inputs of some devoted instructors. Aside their normal classroom work, these unswerving instructors, sacrificially commit extra time to develop the skills of these young ones.

With much inputs from most instructors in our schools, I see a lot of our imbalances among some superiors who always want to find faults with most of these devoted instructors, making time to develop the talents of these students.

Sarcastic and sardonic comments or statements from these authorities to other line-managers or other subordinates all indicate their disinclination for some of these dedicated instructors for no apparent reason.  However, the love these dedicated instructors have for their work keeps them focused irrespective of all the emotional disorder at the workplace. Aside all the raised duties, some of which have not been mentioned over here because of lack of space, the instructor has a family to keep. He/she has a deep heart to cater for the needs of the family and other personal issues.

Now, my question is, with all these duties by credible instructors towards building the total make-up of our students, the attitudes of some unscrupulous instructors and authorities in our schools make one wonder if it is still relevant to teach. Why should other instructors put in much efforts to bring out the best in our students whilst others, carry an ulterior motive through their deceptive actions?

Using crude methods to pass an examination does not make one wise. Someone should tell our students at all levels that examination malpractices, rather make one untruthful, mendacious, and one given to fibbing or lying. Interestingly, most of these devious people, either within the school environment or outside the premises of the school, who also supply cooked answers to students think that, their act proves their love for their school as their rating qualifies them for a prize from an Educational Body for a ‘brilliant performance’. Hmmm… In our current situation, employers are looking for trusted employees and not deceitful people. We must begin to re-question ourselves, the kind of future leaders we are raising in our country.

I always tell educators that using a falsified means to receive recognition from an Educational Body for a ‘brilliant performance’ only makes one live in perpetual guilt and shame, unless one doesn’t have a conscience. May God help our generation!!! The leakage of some examinable papers as reported by WAEC on September 15, 2021 calls for major shake-up in our educational system. It seems that both WAEC and stakeholders are at a loss in how to deal with this serious issue. For this reason, I propose these recommendations.

Firstly, I am of the opinion that the government should set up a commission of enquiry into these examination malpractices among students and the leakage of questions from the Examination Council into the public domain. Usually, when there are examination malpractices, it is either students’ results that are cancelled or withheld by WAEC after a close scrutiny of their scripts, whilst some managers of schools, whose carelessness contribute to this unfortunate frequency are allowed to go unpunished.

I say so because whereas other schools are making frantic efforts to put their schools on a higher academic pedestal through unpretentious examination practices, in general, there are other school managers who lack deep affinity towards total education. Their hypocritical stance is rather breaking down our educational ladder. Until these authorities become clear in their conscience, the lives and minds of our young students in Ghana will grope in total darkness.

Secondly, the Committee should also examine the activities of WAEC, in ascertaining the felons within their set-up who are involved in the leakage of these questions which to a larger extent, has become an annual ritual. The Committee’s findings, should come with severe punishments for these guilty felons of examination malpractices in order to deter other like-minded individuals. This will consequently help the government make informed choices in safeguarding the sanity of the conduct of examinations, especially at the JHS and SHS levels in our dear country.

In my opinion, these recommendations and findings, if strictly adhered to will cause the next generation of students to practically sit up to study. Otherwise, expending efforts in teaching will continue to remain a waste of time.

Will somebody be up and doing?

The writer is an Academic, Visiting Lecturer, and a Reverend Minister

Email address:[email protected]

Leave a Reply