- “Empowering Minds & Equipping Hands: Shifting the Focus of Education for Lasting Impact”
In the bustling landscape of Ghana’s educational realm, it’s easy to be dazzled by the gleaming facades of modern schools, enticed by glossy brochures promising world-class Cambridge or IB curriculum, and captivated by meticulously manicured lawns. As an expert in education, I implore parents and educators alike to pierce through this veneer of grandeur and focus on what really matters — the transformative value of education in a child’s life through quality teaching and learning. The heart of a child’s education lies not in the opulence of a school’s facilities or the prestige of its curriculum, but in the quality of teaching, the nurturing of foundational skills, and the active involvement of parents in their child’s learning journey.
Education, derived from the Latin word “educere,” is a profound process of unearthing or bringing out the intelligence of a person, not merely a matter of putting in facts and figures. It is about igniting curiosity, nurturing critical thinking, and instilling values that will shape a child’s future. In today’s fast-evolving world, the skills and knowledge needed for success are shifting. It’s no longer enough to accumulate information; we must cultivate adaptable, inquisitive minds ready to face the challenges of the future.
Beyond Facilities – The True Essence of Education:
In the race for the best facilities, it’s crucial to remember that a school is more than just bricks and mortar. It is a sanctuary of knowledge, a place where young minds are shaped and nurtured. While a well-maintained campus can create a conducive learning environment, it’s imperative to recognize that the essence of education transcends physical structures. True education is the cultivation of curiosity, critical thinking, and a love for learning. It’s about instilling values, building character, and preparing children not just for exams, but for life’s multifaceted challenges.
Foreign Curriculum vs National Curriculum: the Advantages and Drawbacks
The allure of prestigious curricula, like Cambridge and IB, has seemingly overshadowed the GES curriculum in recent years. Promising world-class education and internationally recognized qualifications, these programs are often perceived as passports to esteemed institutions. Yet, many schools lack accreditation and expertise to offer them.
Ideally, teachers should be educated in these curricula, but most are trained in the GES system. Sadly, professional development opportunities are scarce, hindering effective content delivery. School owners, driven by numbers and profitability, favor the allure of Cambridge or IB status over GES.
Unbeknownst to many, the GES’ National curriculum stands among the world’s best, comparable to education giants like Finland. While curriculum content is excellent, it’s often the teaching and teacher quality that hinders effectiveness. Remember, a curriculum is a framework; it’s the skilled educators who bring it to life.
True learning isn’t confined to textbooks and prescribed syllabi. It flourishes when teachers inspire curiosity, encourage exploration, and foster a genuine passion for knowledge. A child’s education should be an odyssey of discovery, where they learn to think critically, solve problems creatively, and communicate effectively. These are skills that serve them not just in the exam hall, but in every facet of their lives.
More details on the role of a teacher in curriculum development and delivery are defined in the proceeding texts.
The Role of Teacher and teaching Quality:
The linchpin of any successful educational system is its teachers. A skilled, dedicated educator has the power to shape the minds of generations to come. It is they who ignite the spark of curiosity, who guide students through the intricacies of knowledge, and who serve as mentors and role models.
Investing in teacher quality is an investment in the future. It means providing professional development opportunities, offering competitive salaries, and recognizing the invaluable contribution teachers make to society. When we elevate the status of educators, we elevate the quality of education itself.
By shifting the focus from curriculum prestige to the quality of teaching, we empower educators to be the true architects of a child’s educational journey. A dedicated and skilled teacher can take any curriculum and turn it into a transformative experience that shapes a child’s future.
Learning for Life, Not Just for Tests:
In many educational systems, the emphasis on standardized testing has become the yardstick for success. Yet, we must remember that true education extends beyond exam halls. While assessments have their place, they are but a snapshot of a student’s capabilities. The true measure of a child’s education is their ability to apply knowledge, think critically, and adapt to a rapidly changing world.
A holistic education equips children with the tools to navigate life’s complexities. It fosters creativity, resilience, and an insatiable thirst for learning. It prepares them for a future where adaptability and problem-solving skills are paramount. When we prioritize learning for life over learning for tests, we equip our children to thrive in a dynamic world.
Nutritional Foundations for Educational Success:
A well-fed body is a well-prepared mind. Proper nutrition is crucial for a child’s learning and growth. Hungry minds struggle to thrive, making it our collective responsibility to ensure every child has access to nutritious meals. Leading nations in education offer free, highly nutritious meals, at least for lunch, to their students. This is why many, myself included, believe that student performance remains high compared to peers in countries where meals, if provided, lack the necessary nutritional value for physical and cognitive development.
In Ghana, for example, parents often lament the poor quality of meals, especially in public schools. How can children learn effectively when they are hungry or malnourished? Schools play a pivotal role. They must provide balanced meals and healthy snacks, creating an environment where children can focus on learning, not their empty stomachs. Prioritizing nutrition lays the groundwork for a brighter, more nourished future.
Emotional Support and Peer Interaction:
Education is not solely an intellectual pursuit; it is also a social and emotional one. A supportive, inclusive environment is essential for a child’s holistic development. Peers, teachers, and the broader school community all play a part in creating this nurturing ecosystem.
By fostering a culture of empathy, respect, and understanding, we enable children to thrive not only academically, but also emotionally. We equip them with the tools to navigate challenges, build meaningful relationships, and become compassionate global citizens. I strongly suggest school leaders and policymakers to consider reintroducing ethics education, values and principles training as well as patriotism to foster teach children how to effectively and sustainably care for, value and protect themselves, others and the environment they live in.
The Crucial Role of Parental Involvement:
The partnership between parents and educators is the cornerstone of a child’s educational journey. When parents are actively engaged in their child’s learning, the impact is profound. It means attending parent-teacher conferences, asking about their day, and taking an interest in their studies. Research consistently shows that parental involvement is a key predictor of a child’s academic success and future career achievements. It is a powerful force that reinforces the importance of education in a child’s life.
Academic Success vs. Career Success:
Ultimately, the true measure of an education lies not in exam scores, but in the lives students lead after they leave the classroom. Academic success is but a stepping stone to a fulfilling, prosperous future. A well-rounded education equips students with the skills, values, and knowledge they need to excel in their chosen paths. It prepares them to be lifelong learners, adaptable problem-solvers, and contributors to society.
In the pursuit of education, let us not be swayed
by superficial trappings. Let us recognize that the heart of learning lies in dedicated teachers, nurturing environments, engaged parents, and a curriculum that fosters a love for knowledge. It is in these foundational elements that we find the true essence of education, shaping not only students’ academic journeys, but their lives beyond the classroom.
Conclusion: A Call to Action
Despite socioeconomic barriers and other challenges in achieving quality and inclusive education for all (UN SDG4), the way forward is clear. It commences with us—parents, educators, and communities. It’s time to shift our focus and channel our efforts towards what truly counts. Let’s expect more from our educational institutions, not in lavish infrastructure, but in the caliber of teaching, in instilling a passion for learning, and in cultivating environments that foster the all-encompassing growth of our children. This encompasses acquiring knowledge, gaining the wisdom to apply it, and receiving character education to lead fulfilling lives and make a positive impact on the world.
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- PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment). (2018). OECD Publishing, Paris. Link
- Darling-Hammond, L. (2017). Teacher Education around the World: What Can We Learn from International Practice? European Journal of Teacher Education, 40(3), 291-309.
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- Robinson, K. (2006). Ken Robinson: Do Schools Kill Creativity? TED Talk. Link
- World Bank. (2018). World Development Report 2018: Learning to Realize Education’s Promise. Link
- Sahlberg, P. (2011). Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland? Teachers College Press.
- Gopinathan, S., & Lee, M. (2007). Education in South-East Asia. World Scientific Publishing.
Precious is an education expert & author