Aligning our educational system to meet the domestic agenda in economic challenging times

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Some few years back, The Ghana Tourism Authority, under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism Arts and Culture, outdoored the ‘See Ghana, Eat Ghana, Wear Ghana, Feel Ghana’ campaign in a bid aimed at igniting the ‘I am Ghanaian spirit’. A friend of mine – a very proud Ghanaian indeed – is a supporter of the Super Eagles of Nigeria. He is very serious about it and keeps cheering them anytime they play. I’m still trying to conceive and understand how a Ghanaian can disown Ghana Black Stars for the Supper Eagles of Nigeria. Maybe somebody can help me understand the psychology behind this behaviour. Anyone may choose not to support the Black Stars who indeed won yesterday for whatever reason; however, to support another country rather than Ghana, it’s tantamount to lacking the ‘I am Ghanaian spirit’.

The Ministry of Tourism and Creative Art and the GTA deemed it necessary to come up with this concept, perhaps, because some Ghanaians today do not possess the ‘I am Ghanaian spirit’ and they believe it’s a challenge so there is a need to conscientise the public.

It’s important that we begin the education from the basic level through the secondary and tertiary levels. On September 21 this year, we celebrated Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s birthday. The unfortunate thing is that many Ghanaian schoolchildren have never been to the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum, and do not know about the works of Dr. Nkrumah. I heard it’s closed for renovation.  This is just one of the many challenges we face in promoting the domestication agenda. One may argue that they do study about him and other great Ghanaian men and women in school; yet how many of these kids have ever visited and seen the resting place of this great Ghanaians. How many museums have we built in their honour? Again, it’s unfortunate that we have dedicated a holiday in his memory yet many adult Ghanaians have also never visited the Nkrumah Mausoleum. By the way, I’m told the British are the ones who have the copyright over his book? The reawakening of a sense of national pride must begin with the basic school incorporating the learning with the seeing and feeling.

How will it be achieved?

  1. Seeing and feeling Ghana

Research has shown that seeing is a very effective way of learning. Seeing Ghana basically means travelling around the country to see and experiencing the different cultures and tourist attractions. This can be achieved by organising excursions for pupils and students each term or semester. The choice of the attractions must be one that should be carefully selected, educative and entertaining. Tourism clubs must also be set up in all schools as a means of encouraging domestic tourism. I have seen schoolchildren going to the Parliament House to observe debates in the house. This experience can keep a lasting memory on the mind of these pupils, thereby encouraging them to be future parliamentarians. Excursions to such places must be encouraged.

In planning these excursions, the right things must be done. Many a times, school authorities do not consult the experts when planning these excursions. They overload the kids in the buses neglecting safety measures and procedures. I believe we all remember the Kintampo falls disaster. There are procedures to follow before taking students/pupils out on excursions. I wrote articles in the past on best practices elsewhere. One of these procedures is to inform Ghana Education Service in writing and receiving their written permission. A school head told me when they write these letters seeking their consent, the reply sometimes come after the date of the trip. If that were the case, those in charge must be more proactive.

The type of vehicle, the particulars of the driver, etc. are all very important things to consider. Again, the insurance cover of the vehicle does not support overloading, so the overloading must stop. Parents must also be informed, and their written permission obtained before allowing their kids to join these excursions. As I mentioned earlier, many schools ignore these procedures; therefore, parents must ensure they do the right things because their children are the future leaders and we need them alive.

Another important aspect school authorities keep ignoring is acquiring the services of tour guides. They are trained to tell the right stories and educate their audience on the various attractions along the way. Tour guides are flexible and may not charge so much; therefore, let’s involve them. It adds beauty to the excursion. As parents, we need to often plan some tour with our kids. It leaves lasting memories on their minds and will encourage the ‘I am Ghanaian spirit’. We also need to spend our holidays in Ghana and stop going to Dubai and the likes. If we spend our money in Ghana, our economy will be strong and our currency will appreciate. UNWTO date has confirmed that domestic spending is the determinant in propelling the top tourism income receiving countries in the world. Touring is not an expensive activity. It’s all about planning and saving. Many tourists who travel around the world are not rich people. They save toward their holidays, sometimes years before they eventually embark because they deem it a need.

Eat Ghana

Schools must ensure their pupils and students eat what is grown locally. While in Achimota School, we had our own farm and I believe the food we ate was from the farm. Do schools own farms and grow their own food? Domestications must mean we eat locally-grown rice, maize, tomatoes, okro, beans, etc. If we keep importing oil, tomatoes, rice, beans, etc. to feed our schoolchildren, I’m afraid the economy of Ghana will not be as we all wish. If our balance of payment will be favourable, we need to export more than we import. This is basic economics. “I am Ghanaian spirits” must lead our children to be proud of Ghanaian foods and ignore the pizzas and shawamas. The western diet is not the way to go. If we eat what we grow, it will create a ripple-effect in the economy as a whole, and that will be beneficial for the entire country. It will also enhance the business of farmers and those in the supply chain.

I was doing a research on to how historical Ghanaian diet has been. This is what I found; the basic diet consists of a starchy staple eaten with a soup or stew. Forest crops such as plantain, cassava, cocoyam (taro) and tropical yams predominate in the south. Corn is significant, especially among the Ga, and rice is also popular. The main dish is fufu, pounded plantain or tubers in combination with cassava. Soup ingredients include common vegetables and some animal protein, usually fish, and invariably, hot peppers. Palm nut and peanut soups are special favourites. The main cooking oil is locally produced red palm oil. The northern staple is millet, which is processed into a paste and eaten with soup as well. Indigenous diets are eaten at all social levels, even by the Westernised elite.

Talking about palm nut. Did you know that the Malaysians learnt about palm nut from Ghana? Today they are the second leading producers of palm nut in the world. Ghana is 12th behind countries like Nigeria and Côte D’ivoire.

The Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) is a government agency responsible for the promotion and development of the palm oil sector in the country. The country’s palm oil industry produces about 90 million tonnes. Humans used oil palms as far back as 5,000 years. In the late 1800s, archaeologists discovered a substance that they concluded was originally palm oil in a tomb at Abydos, dating back to 3,000 BCE. Palm oil from E. guineensis has long been recognised in West and Central African countries, used widely as a cooking oil. European merchants trading with West Africa occasionally purchased palm oil for use as a cooking oil in Europe.

Palm oil became a highly sought-after commodity by British traders for use as an industrial lubricant for machinery during Britain’s Industrial Revolution. Palm oil formed the basis of soap products such as Lever Brothers’ (now Unilever) ‘Sunlight’ soap, and the American Palmolive brand. Around 1870, palm oil constituted the primary export of some West African countries although this was overtaken by cocoa in the 1880s with the introduction of colonial European cocoa plantation. There were few cases of chronic diseases in Ghana about 60 years ago because we depended on our palm oil and palm kernel oil. Since we started importing all the bad oils and started cooking using these oils, we are now exposed all kinds of heart diseases. Diabetes is also on the increase because of the change in diet and consumption of unhealthy drinks. According to World Health Organisation, 625 million people will be infected with diabetes by 2040. That means every year, 20 million new cases will be recorded. It is now reported that there are kids with diabetes. Let’s go back to the basics and ensure our kids are fed the Ghanaian dishes.

Wear Ghana

One of the objectives of the ‘Wear Ghana’ campaign is to promote locally made fabrics and businesses. September has been dedicated as Wear Ghana Month. Under no circumstances must school heads purchase fabrics made in China or other countries. If we continue importing and buying from other countries, we already know the effect on the national economy. Eventually, local industry and businesses will continue to collapse. We must not only wear Ghana on Fridays, but all other days of the week. Times will be harder and harder if nothing is done to stop the trend. The brain drain will continue and there will be no hope for our schoolchildren. You can’t teach an old dog a new trick, as the saying goes; therefore, the focus must be on the schoolchildren who must be taught the high sense of patriotism by seeing Ghana, eating Ghana, wearing Ghana and feeling Ghana. The “I am Ghanaian spirit” can happen and will happen with them.

Tuesday was World Tourism Day and this is what the Secretary-General of UN said:

“World Tourism Day celebrates the power of tourism to foster inclusion, protect nature and promote cultural understanding. Tourism is a powerful driver for sustainable development. It contributes to the education and empowerment of women and youth, and advances the socio-economic and cultural development of communities. It plays a critical part in the social protection systems that form the foundation for resilience and prosperity.

Philip Gebu is a Tourism Lecturer. He is the C.E.O of FoReal Destinations Ltd., a Tourism Destinations Management and Marketing Company based in Ghana and with partners in many other countries. Please contact Philip with your comments and suggestions. Write to [email protected] / [email protected] Visit our website at www.forealdestinations.com or call or WhatsApp +233(0)244295901/0264295901.Visist our social media sites Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: FoReal Destinations.

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