Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Purpose-Driven Educational System, Must-Have For Ghana

*All those in favor of purpose-driven education, its time to please step up!!*

I deem it necessary to step up to project the rather urgent need for a change of attitude towards education in this country. Many people educated in Ghana over the past half century have left Ghana to acquire additional knowledge and expertise becoming giants in their fields of endeavour the world over. Good examples are Kofi Annan of the UN, Dr. Peter Atadja of Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Dr. Ashitey Trebi-Ollennuand Dr. Ave Kludze of NASA and the list goes on.These clearly answer the question on whether people of Ghanaian origin and Africans for that matter are intellectually capable. A lot more evidence continues to accumulate that totally disperses any contention that Ghana and Africa owe its current state of underdevelopment to lack of creative thinking abilities.

*Purpose of education:*

The value of education to a human being resides in two important points, firstly the transformation of the human mind from crude to structured or a refined form and secondly the acquisition of the capability to transform ones surroundings into a form that increases quality of life. It is in the second point that a clear demonstration of concept of purpose driven education lies. The key question that anybody in the educational sector needs to always ask is, "for what purpose is this quest for knowledge and understanding?" A quote from the Bible will explain what the purpose should be for any society seeking enlightenment and training for its people. When the time came for God to instruct the people of Israel to build the tent of meeting and ark of the covenant, God said to Moses in Exodus 31:3 -"and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts". And in verse 6 of the same chapter it says "Also I have given skill to all the craftsmen to make everything I have commanded you". In this situation God choose to build the capacity of the workmen involved in the project of constructing the tent of meeting and the ark of the testimony by filling them with His Spirit. Society today builds the capacity of its people through education and training for the many different projects necessary to build the structures and create the substance our lives depend on.

Therefore, the delivery of educational services must be bench marked not by the grades awarded but rather the various project targets in specialised fields. A case in point is the training of automobile engineers in this country. The fact that courses in automobile engineering is offered in the Polytechnics and KNUST should reflect on the performance and longevity of our cars. Any one who owns a car can agree with me, without subjecting this issue to scientific polling and statistical analysis, that the current situation strongly suggests that the level and scope of training in automobile engineering is far lower than what is needed. I recently watched an interview of a businessman whose cold store in Tema broke down so frequently that he had to hire expertise from Holland at a great cost for revamping equipment and training his personnel to better maintain their set up. What he said clearly was that the Dutch expert had to be engaged again because his personnel still could not manage the plant. This speaks volumes about electrical engineering training in this country.

*Way forward:*

I was glad to note recently that KNUST was collaborating with GRATIS Foundation for the practical assessment of students in the engineering disciplines. This is one excellent way forward for rescuing the current standards of education. Industry and end-users of educational products must be involved in the evaluation of training programmes, with little emphasis on grading of examinations but rather more on creative works. Those in the visual and the performing arts will know exactly what I am talking about because it is easier for these disciplines to escape the flaws of paper-based examinations. And I will strongly advocate the use of creativity as the basis of assessment by teams of assessors to be made to form a larger proportion of the educational grading systems.

*Stratification of Education at All Levels:*

The growth of any plant is well known to be dependent first on its root system and therefore the way to fix the system of education to correctly deal with the needs of society is to ensure that everybody is given a good chance to express and develop the gift of God within them. The greatest disincentive to any teacher is to be asked to handle a class of students with vastly different intellectual abilities. In a typical class, the most endowed students grasp what is being taught very quickly and are able to ask the right questions, this is sharply contrasted by a group who require several hours of teaching and will still fail. The danger is that the scope of training is narrowed and endowed students are progressively retarded whilst less endowed ones are frustrated by the higher standard of assessment.

The way forward is the use of stratification of the student population at all levels in addition to specialization based on the natural talent of the people. I am of a strong conviction that a system that works well in Germany and other developed countries could be adopted and adapted to rescue our schools. The lower primary 1-3 could have all the kids together, upper primary 4-6 could be separated into a 2-tier system and a 3 tier system for JHS, SHS and the tertiary levels.

I fervently hope a major reorientation of the educational system will be done soon to begin the process of turning the wheel of progress. Education is considered to be a fundamental human right, but I favour the concept of education as therapy. Therapy is designed to correct a misnomer; it is rare to find raw creative talent in the mould of Bill Gates and Isaac Newton. The vast majority of people absolutely need training to be become productive members of society, implying that the "all manner of skills" needed for the nation's development can only be obtained through training and education.

God bless our homeland.


Patrick Kobina Arthur (PhD),

Kindly edited by Gloria Baaba Arkaifie


  1. A purpose driven educational system is certainly a must – have for Ghana. Our educational system should be targeted at solving problems we face in our society and at practical issues rather than a abstract issues which sometimes cannot even be related to the African continent as a whole much less Ghana. I believe that Africans possess the ability and skills required to solve many of the problems facing us just like Europeans, Americans and Asians, the right training is required in the various fields. In asking ourselves why we need to be educated, individuals must have areas of interest and work hard at attaining the knowledge and skills required to solve problems pertaining to that area. We must also change our attitudes to the more practical jobs and resist thinking that those who work in offices are far better than those in the field. In my opinion, those in the field are doing a much more realistic job and should be encouraged! Let us all explore our gifts and pivot Africa to development.

  2. Africans have great minds, but are too poor to tap into these minds. i believe there are a lot of Einsteins and Newtons in Africa who have not been discovered yet. our educational system does more text book learning than practical the science department for instance, due to lack of funds and logistics, only affordable text book learning is promoted neglecting the expensive practical works. appreciation of the learnt only comes when it is applied practically. how then do we appreciate when we dont apply. the educational system must change drastically to promote development. a balance of the two would not be a bab idea.

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  4. I think that every human is endowed with the ability reason logically but this remains dormant in individuals who are not well oriented in terms of education. We need to ask ourselves why Ghanaians tend to excel when they acquire additional training from the so called advanced countries. Education in Ghana is more of theory which is mostly seen to be abstract. The difference between a Ghanaian who has furthered his education in a foreign institution and one who has just completed any one of our universities is the exposure to practical situations. If education here is made a little more practical the nation would begin to turn the wheels of progress.
    The situation is compounded by the politics of retrogression run in this country. We live in a country where every policy by an incumbent government is always criticized by the opposition. A typical example is the recent fuss about the duration of years for SHS. The nation cannot move forward with such attitudes.
    Some of us really want to make a mark in our field of study but we need a better educational system. A purpose-driven educational system is really a must have for Ghana.

  5. Indeed the Ghanaian educational system needs stratification like that of well developed countries. our education system was planned decades ago with little room for changes. how can it meet the growing demands of the nation. I strongly that taking exchange programs annually may well empower the scientists of the nation and enable them to see how best our problems can be solved with the knowledge they obtain over there.

  6. "The black man is capable i managing his own affairs", I strongly believe in statement. The fact is that, excuse me to say, but we are LAZY. This is because we tend to depend so much on foreigners to help us manage our own affairs, rather than devising means and ways of improving upon our unpolished skills. In the example cited, if the dutch expert was not available, knowing a black man, he would have found every necessary ways and means of fixing that problem. Generally, I think Africans like to be pushed to their limits to be able to bring out the best that lies within them.
    In relation to the way forward, I think our curricula is more theoretical than practical. In the sense that, a student can study all the books on this earth but when it comes to execution of the skills, it's a disaster.

  7. The problem lies in the behaviour of the average Ghanaian. the attitude towards work is not there. who says the blackman is not capable of handling his own affairs. it is so because of who the earlier generation left it. we have been made to believe that nothing good comes from our homeland thus whats the need to try when at the end of teh day no one is going to patronize it. this has resulted in many Ghanaians aquiring knowledge and not putting it to use. problem also lies in the structure of our education system which does not gives us a chance to try our hands on what we know. all there is to it is book knowlegde.

  8. Yes, a purpose driven education is what Ghana must have. The main purpose of education is for change. Unfortunately, African education system is for individual survival.
    I personally don’t believe the kind of education where most Africans go to school just for employment to feed themselves and family alone without thinking of the society and the next generations is not the best. . In such systems, the most important requirement is to grades on paper and one is ok to live. Africans are not weak in any respect; mentally, culturally, strength just to mention a few but our attitude is what is making us unproductive. I think the time is now to be responsible to execute our divine purposes on earth.

  9. It is never the fault of the students but rather grade conscious attitude that our teachers and educational institutions heads have develop that made students to concentrate only on theory and leave out the practical component of their education. Vocational, technical and other polytechnics should should be practical centered and forget about the demand for good grades from students. In Ghana I have personally realized that for example to go to medical school you only need good grades and not interest or any other thing.