When I heard about the proposal for an ‘all parties’ forum to discuss educational delivery in Ghana I screamed an expletive. It was involuntary and it was out of exasperation. What the heck? When will government make up its mind and act with supreme urgency to fix our shambolic education system?
Any Ghanaian who is blessed with eyes, ears and a head properly screwed on knows about the problems plaguing our educational system – poor infrastructure (pupils carry kitchen stools to study under trees), lack of teaching and learning aids and teachers who are so poorly-paid that we hardly get the brightest and best to take up teaching as a profession. In broad strokes, those are the problems. We’ve talked and talked and talked about them long enough. Government should know the solution by now and as people with the mandate to act we expect them to go right ahead and fix the problem. We can’t wait. These problems need to be tackled with what Martin Luther King described as the “fierce urgency of now”. That’s how all our problems should be tackled, in fact.
But what do we see? Government officials scratching their heads – and other hairy parts of their bodies – and calling for a forum where there will be a lot of talk, an abundance of tea and enough cash to fill up the pockets of the participants.
A similar forum was held a few months ago on the duration of the senior secondary programme. It ended in limbo – not because there was a lack of tea and fried rice. People drunk, ate and filled up their pockets with per diem only to come to no decision.
As if that wasn’t shameful and wasteful enough, it’s now being reported that the vice president is asking for another forum – to be attended by politicians. The same incompetents who screwed up the system are being invited to come and sit down and drink all the tea they can and talk yet more and then, as a friend said, go to bed! It’s sickening! And it scares the hell out of me because the rest of the world is not waiting for us and I shudder to think about what sort of education my children will have, if I don’t get the fortune of having friends who will pay for their school fees abroad.
Consultations are all well and good. But at the current rate, the consultations have become a stumbling block, impeding progress. If the government has any ideas on how to make the education system better so that my children (if I have any) will be able to compete with their peers in Malaysia, Singapore and South Africa, they should go ahead and do what they know. After all, when they were sharing the big jobs among themselves, they do not consult anyone. They did not hold any forums to decide on when and which toilets to snatch, did they? They did not hold any forums to decide on the dismissals of the heads of various government agencies. When it comes to ‘chopping’ they ‘chop’ alone. So when it comes to working to justify the ‘chopping’ they should do it alone and do it well – one time for the money, yor!
Ghanaians voted for a government to take tough decisions and act to put things right – not to engage in pointless talk and drink all the tea in China. Ghanaians voted for men and women to go to parliament to discuss our issues and pass laws to resolve them. The all parties forum on education should take place in parliament. If it’s about so-called experts talking about education delivery, we’ve had enough of them. Just go and ask Jophus Anamuah-Mensah. So there has been too much talk already.
If the government and those who run it don’t have the ideas or the competence to resolve the problems in the education sector they shouldn’t waste our time and our tea. They should just say so and get the hell out! Simply put, there shouldn’t be another forum – and certainly not on education again. Once, talk time is over. Now is the time to act!