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An Open Letter to President Akufo-Addo
 
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31-Mar-2017  
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Dear Mr President,

I would like to take this opportunity to formally congratulate you on your ascension to the presidency of our loved motherland, Ghana. It is said that, ‘uneasy lays the head that wears a crown’ so I know that as the President, you have a lot on your plate to accomplish as far as the development of Ghana is concerned. Definitely, you can’t do it all alone hence the need for the citizens of Ghana (wherever we find ourselves) to put our heads and hands together to build our nation.

As an educationist trained in Ghana, I was delighted to hear you point out in your first address to the nation that, ‘education is the key to national development.’ You are right, Mr President! Obviously, education is the biggest enterprise in any civilised society.

Granted the fact that education is one of the most important tools for national development, it becomes the responsibility of any progressive government anywhere to provide and promote sound educational policies as well as infrastructure that will help its people to acquire knowledge, skills and attitudes that enable them to develop their potentials. The founding President of Ghana, Dr Nkrumah, understood this very well. He, therefore, expanded the opportunities for all Ghanaians to have some education.

There was the mass education for adult Ghanaians who were above school-going age. More importantly, the formal sector of education in Ghana then saw rapid development under President Nkrumah. A lot has befallen the educational system in Ghana since Dr Kwame Nkrumah left the scene. Good policies but poor implementation as well as bad policies based on ‘selfish political ideologies’ and naked corruption have over the years crippled the smooth growth of the educational sector in our country.

It is now your turn to make education more meaningful in and to the development of Ghana. I need not to remind you that it is through sound educational policies (taking local needs into consideration) and ensuring their effective implementation at all levels of the education ladder that you can achieve such task for Ghana.

Though I no longer work in Ghana, I am still a citizen of Ghana and continue to write to influence education in Ghana from time to time, especially in the area of teacher education since that has been my major field of study and work (I rose to the rank of Assistant Director in the GES before leaving Ghana in 1995). I am also still working in Canada as an elementary teacher and I love being an educationist.

Mr. President, I would like to comment on two of the educational policies that our new government in Ghana is pursuing. These are the Free Senior High School (SHS) education and the restoration of allowances to teacher trainees.

The Free SHS education is good, for it will definitely enable many citizens to gain access to education at that level. However, you would agree with me that ‘in this world there is nothing free!’ (My apologies to Hon Kennedy Agyapong at the Toronto Town-Hall meeting on March 19, 2017). Even in the Christian world when we shout that, ‘Salvation is Free!’ we know that though salvation has been made free for us through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, it has been heavily paid for by God.

The Bible says, ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son….’ God sacrificed His ONLY SON, Jesus Christ for our salvation! And the blood of Jesus that saves us from all our unrighteousness is sustainable! Sir, I hope you have done your homework very well on the sustainability of Free SHS education through the years and that it will not be a burden on our national economy, which is in ailing position. Thank you sir.

Anyway, is SHS education going to be ‘free’ for students in boarding schools such as Achimota, Mfantsipim, Prempeh College and the like? I know that in Ontario-Canada, high school education is free everywhere. For, the schools are community- based and students commute between home and school every school day.

However, parents who choose to send their children to boarding schools such as Upper Canada College pay some fees. Is Ghana’s Free SHS education just tuition-free and not boarding-school free? How does a parent who lives at Oguaakrom and wants his brilliant child to attend Achimota School in Accra but is not capable of paying the boarding fees charged by Achimota benefit from the Free SHS policy? Don’t we need more community-based SHSs reasonably furnished to acceptable standard to make SHS education ‘truly free and fair’ for the citizenry no matter where they live in the country? Please, let’s beware of the creation of ‘Animal Farm’ with our Free SHS. I trust you will guard against such trend!

Oh, lest I forget! Mr President, I think to make our Free SHS more meaningful to the student, I would like to see more attention paid to the student at the primary school level to effectively lay a strong and formidable foundation for the student’s learning journey to the high school and beyond. Good! Do I hear you say yes? And that the teacher who facilitates learning in the classroom is more important here?

This brings me to the issue of allowances for teachers in training. I am afraid the allowance might attract ‘wrong’ people who love money more than teaching into the teaching profession. I am talking from experience as a former teacher-trainer in Ghana. Why not make loans and scholarships (from district assemblies) accessible to teacher-trainees and put more money rather into the salaries of teachers to enable trainees who successfully complete their teacher education to comfortably pay back their loans or work in the districts which supported them during their training?

Also, we need to ensure that candidates with the necessary entry requirements are picked by our principals for the teacher training colleges. Let us cut the ‘goldfields’ in the admission of teacher-trainees to our colleges where allowances become baits for insincerity and corrupt practices. Ouch! I did not mean to hurt anybody, however, the truth, at times, hurts. Sorry!

Mr. President, thank you for lending me your ears. Please beware of the ‘little foxes’ in our educational system. I will write to you again. Meanwhile, I wish you good health, wisdom from above, and God’s blessings.

Yours truly,
Joe Kingsley Eyiah (CITIZEN)


 
 
 
 
 

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