Thursday, August 19, 2010

Education – A view from Ghana

Atavistic Parrots*

Pencil-pushing parrots who speak the good English of their bird trainers. That’s what I think when old people cry that the standards of education have fallen. The standards had nowhere to go and fall. They were always low! And deliberately so!

The colonial educational policy was to train “natives” to be clerks: paper-filing, routine-thinking, data-memorising clerks. Simple truth! Fortunately, the system worked for the old people when they were colonial clerks, as well as when they became post-colonial bosses of even more clerks.

Now the world has moved on, and yet Ghana still uses the same old techniques. The educated elite rules the country, but it maintains or reintroduces policies to educate our children into colonial-esque clerks, who pass out non-equipped to be anything cerebral; anything that can think!

The education system today is just like it was yesterday. It was made for clerical training even in the universities! So, the atavistic parrots should please shut up! And some 'real' expert should please design a custom-made system for our poor kids.

*Parrots, because all they do is talk, talk, talk.


  1. Tell me bout it. Who dictates notes to University students? Just yesterday, a friend and I had this discussion and this was what she had to say " They sit at parliament, use all the big words in their vocaulary and then shoot their mouths like parrots" . Indeed, we do need a custom-made system but the sad thing is that it seems those in authority have not, the faintest idea on what to do.

    Thank you for putting up this post.

  2. A changing of the guard will be in order. But the "real" experts we need are quiet & not politicians.
    The noisy empty barrels make the most noise and we end up putting them in charge.

  3. Hey Nana I've been waiting expectantly for your post on this issue! And I'm not disappointed. Putting this in its historical context has really demystified the situation for me. I love this.

  4. I wholeheartedly agree with you on this.

  5. Hear Hear! We need a revolution. I'm all for changing our crappy educational system. All that chewing and pouring never helped anyone.

    Now the difficult part will be finding people with the right sorta thinking to drive us in the right direction.

  6. Nana Yaw, you really crack me up! just discovered your blog, laughing my head off and wondering why it took forever to discover your blog. But hey, you know what they say, better late than never, happy catching up for me! witty, thought provoking and hilarious, thanks for bringing home close to an accraian away from home :)

  7. Isn't it interesting that our former head of states had their education outside Ghana? And isn't it also interesting that the soldiers who took power had little education (read Clerk education)?
    Are we anywhere closer to getting transformational education in Ghana? I doubt it!
    But we're a curious and discerning generation of young people and that is all we need to make or ask for changes and opportunities.

    My education wasn't the best but I owe it to myself to be the best I can be.

    CHeers Nana Yaw!!

  8. This puts our educational system into perspective and should get a lot of people thinking. I applaud you for it...however, it remains on this blog. I urge you to do your bit and write a newspaper article about it. we, the leaders of tomorrow, should take this seriously as well.

  9. Kwame Mensa-Bonsu20 August, 2010

    Our educational system specialises in wasting talent. Pity.

  10. I realized it was difficult to undertake critical thinking tasks when I started college. Who does that! I had been trained to take notes and learn from theories in the classrom. What the heck is practical training...grrr... An "outside" education may not be all that but they have discovered the secret which we are yet to. We need to leave the hypothetical theories and start living what we are taught! Maxims and the lack of the practical know-how has over and over again been our downfall.

    How does a high school drop out rule a nation for years and so called well eductaed people hail him as king? It's tru that book knowledge is different from Wisdom but it helps if you can read the book to gain the knowledge too. Just my 2 cents

  11. i agree with you all, but does anybody here have an idea to better our education system???

  12. Nana is probably going to shoot me, cuz he doesn't like the American in me lol. But I think there should be an integration of the American High School and British O and A level system.

    American kids, the ones who study anyway (you meet ignorant people everywhere don't you?), are quite innovative. I adore the do it yourself attitude that they possess. The British are too role/class oriented. "It's your job to fix the toilet. I'm not going to dirty my hands when you should be here"

    I truly think we should yank out all the books used in the government schools. We need a new curriculum and materials that will make our kids use their brains. Practicals, practicals, and more practicals, to get them used to the ideas they are studying!!! Essays to make them explore their critical thinking and for goodness sakes, who on earth started that system where kids would come to school for half a day? Lazy teachers. Mark essays darn it!!!

    One last thing. I would like to see a comprehensive library in every district in Ghana. It will take time, true...but it's something we must do. Our kids don't read enough. Forget the internet. I will forever read my books in soft or hardcover, curled up in bed, or in an armchair. None of that kindle nonsense for me. I really think that if our children are encouraged to read verociously (a good combination of fiction and educational stuff) we will make some headway.

    *gets off her soapbox* Now that I'm done, I can put my head back on lol

  13. Gifty said it!!
    How do we transform the system? Any ideas?

    2 years ago, I was oping there would be people in their 40's in key positions in the Ghana govt. They surely must be tired of the old guards.
    This ship will be turned around.
    Then Koku Anyidoho & co get key positions and all I hear is them arguing with the old guards???? Arguments, insults & pissing contests wont get us anywhere.
    Like I said at hollatainment, the intelligent ones that we NEED are the quiet ones that aren't politicians.

    You said it Nana Yaw. Interesting how it always comes down to education.


  14. Ms Daixy!!! Yes class indeed does exist in the UK. It also exists in the USA it's just they try to pretend it doesn't.

    Looking at the educational statistics for the USA, the high level of illiteracy and the belief in the irrational despite the discoveries of science, I wouldn't want to impose more of that in Ghana! lol

    But I agree with you that Ghana needs to combine theory with practise and that critical thinking is the key.

    I would love to know what is going on in the teacher training colleges in Ghana. Are they not reading contemporary educational theories?

  15. All I'm asking for is a proper integration. There is SOME good to the US educational system, just as there is for the UK. I think the proper thing to do is analyze both carefully. See what it is that makes both work and how to merge them. Leave out the crap they come along with. Surely we can sift through them? I want the future generation of Ghana to be kick ass! LOL

    I agree that there's a class system in the US(albeit insignificant imo. it's more race oriented there regardless of what they tell you), but I was concentrating more on the fact that Americans possess this do it yourself attitude that we don't see in the UK. No offense intended, but the UK is only just beginning to adopt that.

    As always, I'm but a kid and know nothing ;) If I'm wrong, by all means do point it out.


  16. You are so right on with this post.

    I love this speech this girl read to her graduating class as the valedictorian. I couldn't post the speech unfortunately (too long) but here's a link to it :


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