One may wonder what prompted me to give such a bizarre title to my article. You may be surprised to see such a title – the mammoth surprise that crept through your spine all the way up to disfigure the fine contours of your face is nothing different from mine when I penned it down. You should brace yourself for yet another surprise when you witness those this write-up would criticise regarding it as senseless as the title itself. For once, the truth must be told to their face. If the title left a bitter taste on your tongue, it is perhaps the naked truth glaring at us is as bitter as quinine.
Well, I would not let the title take the sweetness from the substance I am about to relay. It is an irrefutable fact that gone are those days when education used to be a valuable asset on the shores of the Gold Coast. Hence, the evolution of the cliché: “the most valuable asset or property every parent can bequeath to their children is education”. How many times have you not heard it piously sung to the intrigued listening ears that parents cannot do their children any good in life if they (parents) leave behind vast cocoa farms and giant beautiful mansions without giving them (children) formal education? To make this assertion so appealing, they would then argue that the material assets are liable to destruction but with education, the children take it to their graves. I have no reason to doubt this at all. But my question is: what do we see today?
Education as you and I are aware is in two forms – the formal and informal forms of education. For the purpose of this write-up, I would focus on the former to make my argument. It is worth acknowledging that the informal education suffered extinction to pave way for formal education – it paved way for modernity – it paved way for a new generation of critical thinkers and innovators.
But how did formal education come into existence? One would ask. I must admit that our colonizers did us a great harm – the harm greater than what our black continent could bear; however, it is also worth noting that there is as well a litany of good legacies they left behind. Among those great legacies is formal education. In as much as I am praising them for bringing us formal education, it is again worth acknowledging that they would not have willingly done that if it would not have inured to their maximum benefit.
Firstly, for the sake of smoothly carrying out their missionary work and their trading activities, they needed to break the language barrier between the colonized and the colonizers. How did they do that? They needed as a matter of urgency to train blacks who they perceived as not having any language to serve as translators and mediators between them and the black populace. Also, due to the intermarriages that took place among the whites and blacks, there came about procreation of mulattos – yes the mulattos, for this is what the children of mixed race were called. The white man saw the need to educate the mulattos they brought forth so they were given formal education in confined environments.
With the passage of time, the rich and powerful blacks also commenced sending their children to those confined environments with instructors to receive education. So does my curt knowledge in history teach me. No wonder formal education pertained to only a section of influential households in our society in the past. As time wore on and admissions became huge, there was the need to put up permanent structures called schools with the first established schools being the missionary schools which all rich and influential blacks sent their children to. Again, it is never an iota of wonder that almost all the leaders Ghana (former Gold Coast) has had until the day I pen this down graduated from one missionary school or the other. Talking about the Achimotas, Adisadels, Mfantsipims, Augustines, you name it. That is how formal education started and over the centuries has diffused to almost every household in Ghana today. Glory and thanks be to the Almighty.
However, my answer in advance is a capital NO should you ask me if the standard of education and the kind of prestige attached to it has appreciated over the years. Not at all! It has rather deteriorated. All thanks to the kind of visionary leaders we have had as a country since the attainment of independence. Have they not done a Yeoman’s job? Yes they have done exceedingly well for glorifying mediocrity. Our forefathers on whose blood and toil this great nation gained its independence were ignorant of the fact that our own black leaders would be worse than the colonizers. If they had foreseen this, they would not have taken the pains to put the blood on the line. Our black leaders only envied the white colonizers; thus, eliminating them to take their seat. What did we see when our own black leader assumed the seat? He soon forgot he was once like us and immediately took steps to Lord over us. They approached us with the slogan of coming to serve us, but we end up serving them rather. How ironic it is.
Long gone are those days when we used to hear the term “Okrakyeni” meaning educated and enlightened fellow. The rampant use of the word those days is because education was so much valued then. No one graduated from sixth form, talk less of university and would be unemployed. Have we not heard several times that before one graduates, there would be a desirable job befitting an “okrakyeni” awaiting them? These leaders who have made education so valueless today are said to have had virtually free education to tertiary level. Some were on a full scholarship. Have we not heard they even boycotted dining for being fed up of being served full chicken at the university everyday? What was their argument? They needed variety. What has changed today? Is it not preached that “to whom much is given, much is expected?” Why are they now giving us worse for the good we as a country did them? Is it that they are ingrates, or they are simply visionless? Or it may be that it is a deliberate attempt to make the majority of the citizens continue to wallow in ignorance and abject poverty so that they can continue manipulating and cheating them while they and their families seek quality education overseas?
They have as well succeeded in making the remnants of education left for the masses so exorbitant that it takes only miracles for most students who are not from financially sound families to successfully go through the academic years. If one complains about it, those same people who had virtually free education would tell you education is for only those who can afford it.
Why do we have so many graduates in the system without jobs? With this one too, they argue that the schools are producing more graduates than the job opportunities that exist in the system. Those who make such baseless, infantile and unfounded argument should have as well known that once they have not confiscated the populace’s libido, procreation would inevitably expand the population and there was the need to have projected into the future by advance expansion of existing industries, putting up of more industries, and building more firms to meet the demands of increasing population that is even recommended by the Alpha and Omega. This among others is what great leaders with vision do. They never blame their inactions on school courses and programmes which are not relevant to the job market. By the way, there is no single course or programme which is immaterial to the job market. And there is no way we can all look in one direction by offering the same course. Who would have needed the services of the other and who would have attended to those that they claim it is not relevant in the system.
Any leader who has the next generation at heart would never think of privatising or divesting any state company. There is no justification for selling to individuals that which belongs to the state and would profit everyone. Those who are to represent our interest have sold their conscience for money like Judas Iscariot sold Jesus for money. Did not that money he so craved for become valueless to him in the end? What will it profit you as a leader if you appropriate the money meant for the development of the state? If you are a leader and you cannot add to what is already in existence, you should never take from it, for it is said that “if you never get anything for your in-law, you don’t turn round to rob them.”
All that the Messiahs of our time know best is asking people, who have no job, especially graduates, to go and do the job they would never ascribe to their children. We say leadership by example, so whatever you want me to accept as my lot, you should first of all do that yourself then I would willingly and genuinely follow. Leaders should also never think they are doing us any favour by providing us what is rightly ours for we deserve the best as citizens of a great nation. Now leaders should think outside the box and look for ways of making education more valuable than making it increasingly valueless with the passage of time. They should let us have value for our education by providing jobs that would meet the demands of the increasing population.