Ghana@66: Where is our unity to garner strength for purpose?


I learned during my time in Sunday school as a kid that the only sure way to repentance is to first accept our sins or mistake, be remorseful, confess the same, and ask for forgiveness from the almighty God/Allah, and his loving kindness is enough for him to forgive us.

If we have identified as a nation that when we are united then we can surmount any challenges and accomplish any purpose, as the theme for our national day celebration stipulates then the development of our society, especially our education must depend on this spirit.

The popular adage ‘Children are the future’ has been abused by our leaders in this country, from political, religious, to corporate leaders but in reality, little is done to create a seamless transition from childhood to becoming the leaders of the future.

Let’s assume we all sing the chorus that children are our most important asset; they are the foundation of our future, and they are our future leaders as claimed, why are we jeopardising their future?

I thought that would be more reason for us to ensure that children are raised with care and love and that they have a safe life, whilst creating the right environment with the appropriate resources for them as we claim to be doing to attract foreign investors for the economy.

In order not to be seen as politically influenced, let me ignore the many calls for Free Senior High School (FSHS) policy review, and focused on the other “low-hanging fruits” that have not been over politicised.

In all sincerity, do reports such as “Ghana’s Schools of Shame: Over thirty-thousand pupils lack furniture in North East Region,” “About 2.3 million children in Ghana’s public basic schools lack desks,” “Over 1.2M children still not in school after 17 years of FCUBE,” and “An estimated 5,403 schools in critical need of a facelift at the basic level,” among several others indicate that we are deliberately creating a career path for future leaders or have them at heart?

March 6th is Ghana’s National Day and commemorates Ghana’s independence from the United Kingdom in 1957. This year, our beloved country would be 66 years old. The 66th-anniversary commemoration is scheduled to take place at Ho in the Volta Region, under the theme: “Our Unity; Our Strength; Our Purpose.”

I love the theme, and that is where I got the inspiration to share my two cents. Indeed, united you win, divided you fall. It means ‘unity is strength’ and therefore if there is a better time to stay united, then this commemoration should be the time. Whilst it is very important for people to stay united, unfortunately, the word unity has become confined to motivational and inspirational talks for leadership.

Ghana is a land of a multi-cultural, multi-racial, multi-lingual, and multi-ethnic society, showing how diversified we are, nonetheless, we are not divided on any of these fronts making here a very peaceful country on the continent. Notwithstanding, when it comes to an important area such as education that holds the key to future children, we are mostly divided in opinion.

One of the advantages of unity is that it helps to grow faster because no one can grow alone. We need support from others. If we want to grow in business, we need team members. If we need to grow our family, we need a partner. If we have to achieve a big success in our society, we need to work together towards that success.

Unfortunately, in the pre-education sector, apart from what the government -the Ministry of Education, and the Ghana Education Service think is right, what all other persons both citizens and foreigners think about the sector is wrong. Is that possible?

Whilst the country is blessed to have a few vibrant civil society organisations (CSOs) in the education space with vast research data and expertise to help address some of the challenges, the government sees that as opposed to development and good policy.

The media has not been spared at all in this regard. Journalists on several occasions have been flagged with ‘fake news’ take, their reports discredited and called names for bringing to the limelight some key issues that can be addressed together for the future of the children.

I remember when the Education Minister, Dr. Osei Yaw Adutwum, remarked that he felt disappointed when he saw the documentary titled: “Ghana’s Schools of Shame: Over thirty-thousand pupils lack furniture,” because it was rather supposed to talk about ‘schools of fame’ which also existed all over the country.

I agree that we have schools of fame but does that justify why we should allow those of shame to remain in that state? Where lies equity and equal opportunity for all citizens as the constitution of our great nation has enshrined.

Nonetheless, the ministry responded swiftly to procure some desks to salvage the dire situation in the northern part of the country. Well done minister and the team, ‘Ayekoo’. This is what unity and togetherness can do – identify challenges and provide solutions in the shortest possible time together. This is a true reflection of Unity is strength.’

On that note, Dr. Adutwum, please let me draw your attention to a new report by Eduwatch which indicates that ‘about 2.3 million kids in Ghana have no desk at school., this is a 2023 report that needs urgent attention to consolidate your legacy in on that particular topic.

Going forward, the theme of this year’s national independence celebration must reflect in our policy decisions and engagement in the education space to create the most suitable environment we can have for future leaders to become well-equipped to lead.

For the past three years, CSOs including Africa Education Watch (Eduwatch) and Institute for Education Studies (IFEST) have made calls on the government to scrub the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) capping so that enough funds can be generated to support infrastructure development in schools but unfortunately unity seems elusive here.

Standing in unity does not mean anything said by anyone outside the government is true and should be done but when consultations and research reports show that is the best solution what next do we do?

With current statistics showing that there are some 5,400 schools under trees, and an additional 4,000 junior high schools (JHSs) needed for pupils graduating from public primary schools in remote communities where there is no continuation infrastructure, urgent infrastructure is required and the GETFund has an impressive track record in that direction.

Admitting the challenges and communicating the same explicitly would better attract donor agencies’ attention to help and enable corporate Ghana to channel their CSR initiatives into this area and that is the way to tackle this issue as ‘the government cannot do it alone.’

I see the theme as a clarion call to leadership in all sectors of society to open the civil space for more engagement and deliberations to address the issues together for a better Ghana.

A safe education space is a win-win for state and individual households. The recent debates about the quality of education at the basic level and private schools being treated unfairly are all going to hurt the future of the children who will lead this country to fulfill their purpose because they will suffer the consequences.

Let me conclude by reiterating that united we stand divided we fall. Happy Independence Day, fellow Ghanaians.


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