The “Educated” Ghanaian

Education in Ghana is “someway”, in fact our educational system is bad, you can even tell by the quality of graduates and ultimately by the kind of leaders we have. I begin to wonder if the education we receive is supposed to make us knowledgeable or get a certificate, but then again, which one is more important to employers and our society, our certificates or what we know?

from google.com

from google.com

To be an intelligent student(shark), you should have a hard drive-like mind, you must be able to chew(cram) your notes. Back in Jhs, I had this classmate who could chew social studies notes WORD FOR WORD(not exaggerating, I saw his paper), he would write the same paragraph in the exam room and no, he wasn’t cheating. How do teachers expect us to beat that especially when we are all different and learn in different ways? Students with photographic minds have it easy, exams questions do not ask you to apply knowledge, they rather require that you rewrite all that the teacher taught you. Your understanding is your problem, it gets frustrating, after a while, all you want to do is avoid failure because you don’t want to rewrite. Let’s talk about teachers, how many people willingly want to become teachers when they graduate? Very few, most people just land the job because its the only option available. We end up having people who failed their shs exams or didn’t get good jobs after their university education teaching kids in primary schools, jhs and shs. The first problem with this is their lack of job satisfaction; no passion or zeal. Also, the “teacher” won’t know enough to teach the kids.

Our educational system has been reduced to a certificate acquiring venture,Students want to chew their notes, write their exams and move on to the next class. They don’t try to learn anything new especially when its not in their syllabus (even the syllabus, they never finish it). Truth be told, the academic system is so stressful and most students who do extra curricular activities like sports have their academics failing. We only do theory stuff,try doing agric,the botanical names to chew alone will make you hate the course but we forget 60% of the Ghanaian population is into agric. We leave farming to the “unschooled” ones who end up using wrong methods and waste resources. Some people say most of the things we learn in school don’t help us in real life; like always being told to find x.

from google.com

from google.com

We were once trying to create a program for a bus which would calculate an approximate time the bus would reach its destination and tell where the bus is at a particular time using a gps device, that was the day the speed/velocity in respect to time and distance equation made sense. But ask us and we will give you the formula gidigidi. There are a lot of practical things we can do with things we learn in class but alas, we must study hard lest we fail our bece or wassce or worse end up doing a “condemned” course  in the university.

Offering “condemned” courses like Physics, Chemistry,Biology, Mathematics, English,etc meant you had failed in the WASSCE but you wanted to enter the university so you chose any course. Some people even say “why are you offering that course? When you finish school, you won’t get any work to do, unless you want to be a teacher”. And the university helps this by lowering the cut off points for these very important courses that shape a nation.  All they want are doctors, engineers, lawyers forgetting these professions have roots in their “condemned” courses.

At the end of the day, some “educated” Ghanaians display astonishing levels of illiteracy which would leave you confused. I know people who haven’t been to the university, have no certificates, but are very knowledgeable. They will tell you, they learnt it on their own.

from google.com

from google.com

We should question our educational system, at least for our children’s sake, are we schooling for certificates or schooling to acquire knowledge?

A graduated me,
Anonymous233

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The Question- The System

An organisation I am a part of(NSBE-National Society of Black Engineers) organised an event where we went to secondary schools to talk to science students about science and engineering courses they could pursue in the university. After the talk, it was question time then they asked” If we have scientists and engineers coming from the university every year, why does government and other companies employ foreigners to undertake projects, because we should be qualified enough to do most of the work ourselves. Some also said they know Chinese children build gadgets. We said we have Civil engineers but its mostly white men who build our roads. Why?”

Their questions got me thinking, but I gave them the most obvious answers; Ghana doesn’t have the resources like machines and equipment to undertake such projects.We still buy the equipment from the foreigners. So its cheaper like that and when they come, they employ us. It was a lame answer but I got away with it, but the question troubled me because I was about to graduate(finally) and I for once looked at life after school, and got scared.

I’m not scared because we will not get jobs, my fear is this, I’ve seen very intelligent students with brilliant ideas that would change the nation, but what will happen to them after school? They will get sucked in by the SYSTEM. The system that doesn’t allow graduates to think, they just do. Some will travel outside to seek higher education, some will just join these inefficient Ghana something something companies, get brainwashed and made to believe their quota is to get used to the system and live in it. After, they will buy a house, a car, get married, give birth and wait for retirement. That’s the end of the education.

I will limit myself to sciences and engineering. Most of these engineering firms and telcos import their software and are taught how the system works, by a year, they would be experts in the system then all innovation is killed. Scientists? lol the most prominent one I know in Ghana is Prof Allotey. What happened to the others? Some became tellers, businessmen etc. What about starting something? Entrepreneurship? Go to linked in and check, you will see Entrepreneurs who are working for people. Honestly, I think the term Entrepreneurship has been abused in Ghana, that is another article.

Maybe the reason why we employ foreigners is because we aren’t well taught, we are mostly taught to use and maintain what the foreigners have built. Innovation and brainstorming is not encouraged, after all, do you know more than your lecturer? What about the government buying the equipment so the locals here can use? Do we always have to import everything, even mental work?

Well, we can change this. We must. The SYSTEM isn’t good enough and we must not allow the younger generation to suffer what we suffer, that would be wickedness. We can build a better Ghana by restructuring our educational system.

My graduation speech is very simple: I thank God, I thank my parents, and thanks to all the passco!! Hasta La Vista, so long and thanks for all the fish. May the Force be with us all…

Advice to all freshmen

First years, welcome to the university. You can now wipe that enthusiastic, fresh, excited and vacant look on your face. Let me tell you the truth about this place:

1. Your pursuit of quality education has brought you here. You were told this place isn’t the secondary school, you will be lectured. Lies,the only different thing is the freedom. It is a secondary school without walls, teachers are lecturers, classrooms are lecture halls. You were told, they offer quality education so you need to study hard for a first class. Don’t mind them, if you want a first class, CHEW your bloody notes!! Chew them religiously, chew everything your teacher lecturer gives you,be it hand outs, slides, notes, even pieces of paper as if your life depended on it. You don’t even need to understand what you are chewing, JUST CHEW IT and drink water on it. Look for past questions and solve then chew the questions and answers. Don’t bother yourself reading wide, in the exams, they only want what they taught you. Just make sure you acquire knowledge on your own in your field of interest.

2. You will meet all kinds of people. Serious people, non serious people, academicians, “fun-mecians”, etc. People who wear winter scarves on a hot, sunny afternoon and wear sunglasses midnight. But that aside, make sure you network. Network, network, network. Look for people with similar interests and hang out with them. You may not be studying your course of interest but nothing stops you from getting an informal education on your topic of interest and at the same time making friends, you might never know where you will meet them or when you will need them.

3. Boys, who are interested in having a relationship, be careful of university girls. When you try to impress a girl with your money, remember that when she says she loves you, the “you“ she is talking about is what is coming from your pocket, not you the human being, and in this situation make sure you stay away from the continental towers, else one day you might jump. I’m not saying don’t spend money on someone you love, just be careful. And guys who own cars, remember you are endangered species, you will always have friends both girls and boys because of your car. The almost extinct ones are those fresh boys with fresh cars, make sure you pray every morning before leaving your room.

4. Girls, beware of boys especially continuing students whose scores are 3 nil or 4 nil, those guys are desperate and dangerous. And when you dress inappropriately and have guys all over you, in the name of love, know that the love here means “I want a piece of that ass”. Don’t put your heart into it.

5. Put God first, go to church and paa joe regularly, its good for your health. Befriend real, spirit-filled Christians,and as often as you can, stay far away from “chrife” people. You will know them when you see them, they walk perpendicular to the ground as if they are downloading words from heaven. Before they talk to you, they must utter a few words in tongues then translate it for you the heathen to understand. They will frustrate your walk with God. They don’t have social lives, they are just hypocrites.

6. Prioritize your activities not everyone came to offer the right course. Some people are meant to be politicians yet they are offering engineering, some are to be entertainers yet they are offering medicine. But make sure you pursue your interests (after chewing the notes). I know people who have a degree in science but are bank managers so if you didn’t get your course of interest, fret not, still follow your dream.

7. Join organizations of your interest. You can join societies, clubs or do sports. Have a healthy social life. Take part in the activities of the organizations and if possible get positions in these organizations. Bottom line, after your 4 years, your C.V should be a thing of beauty, filled with good references and leadership qualities. It might look like you are using the organization as a stepping stone, ok, yes you are using them but they also took your time so it’s a win-win situation.

8. Campus is not a secure place, you have all the freedom you always dreamed of but it comes with responsibilities. Take care of yourself, your money and property. There are a lot of thieves, armed robbers and tricksters on campus. Don’t talk to strangers and at night, walk in groups (make sure there is at least one person in the group you can run faster than). Beware of student politicians training to become professional politicians. Beware of them even more than the armed robbers. They are worse off than them; they lie, cheat and steal students’ money in broad daylight. Beware of people you call friends too, know whom to trust, as I said, campus isn’t a safe place.

9. Chill out, relax! You are an undergrad only once. Attend school functions, hall week celebrations, faculty celebrations, dinners, sports events, all celebrations. Have fun when you go but keep this in mind, Never I repeat, never ever miss an item 13 meeting, ever! When you hear or read (read everything on the notice boards as often as possible) “Item 13 is highly assured” please don’t miss it. Where do you think they get the money to organize these events? It’s from the fees and dues you paid. Go and eat till you are filled, if possible carry a black polythene bag along.

10. Not every class is important to attend, there are some classes you have to skip to get things done. Right now it might sound like a taboo, you will attend EVERY class but I give you up to 2nd year, some of you will only see the lecture room when its time for exams. Don’t believe everything the lecturer says, and don’t argue with them too. If a lecturer lies, cross check on the internet, know the right thing, but in exams, spew his lies on the paper. Don’t change a word. If he says the moon is made from cheese write the moon is made from cheese. That’s all. You don’t know more than your lecturer.

There are more you will need to find out yourself but these ones I think you should know. I might be right or wrong, that too you will find out you. Last words, if in final year you realize, you didn’t grab, you didn’t borga, You didn’t make a first class, you didn’t network, then know you have wasted 4 years.

Brain drain or Greener pastures?

In school, we were told we needed education to be successful in the real world. We were told all we needed to do was to study hard, make the right grades and companies would rush to employ us. Companies came to advertise themselves and encouraged us to apply for work with them. We were told many things. We incubated these hopes and dreams and waited to graduate so we could birth them. Four years of university education in Ghana and a bachelor’s degree later, Where are all the goodies we were promised? Then the harsh reality hit me, I am now in the real world…
In the real world (The place you go after school), jobs are not lying in the street. You would find graduates sharply dressed in their coats and ties, holding huge files filled with CVs, degrees and academic nonsense, hopping from one job interview to another. You may be very lucky and get employed by someone you know. Let’s say your parents own a company, or your parents know someone who owns a company. All this person needs is a paper to show he went to a university and has graduated, the class doesn’t matter. Whether they deserve the work or not, whether they deserve the pay or not, they already have a door with their name on it in the office. Not so for everyone, some parents don’t know anyone and they don’t have an official SSNIT pension scheme. Their “pension scheme” is the money they invested in educating their children, what do these children do after school when unemployed?

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borrowed from ghanaweb.com

You could decide to seek “greener pastures” on either the American or European soil. But in school, we were advised against this option. We were told we would cause our motherland Ghana to suffer from some strange disease known as “brain drain”. Brain Drain is the depletion or loss of intellectual and technical personnel. In the real world, starting a business is not child’s play. Why not use the intended capital to purchase a visa and plane ticket to the greener pasture? After all, washing plates, cleaning restrooms or brushing horses’ teeth and getting paid per hour in the foreign currency is better than walking around in the sun for jobs that are like mirages. Even if you are lucky to get the job, your pay would be terrible as compared to someone who had lower grades but got employed by someone he knows.
You might disagree with me, you might be saying the youth have to be patriotic and use the education acquired to serve the country, fine. The question now is serve the country where? In my parent’s living room?  Or under the scorching African sun? Why won’t we run away and drain the country? After paying all that school fees? Unless of course you want me to stay and start a business in the social vices which is risky.
The heart breaking part is the kind of education we receive. It is locally known as “chew and pour”, the lecturer gives you notes, you cram them (if you are very good, the day before exams) then you answer definition type of questions, “what is this, what is that?” I am not against knowing what this or that is, but after we know what they are, won’t it make more sense to ask “How do you use x to solve problem y?”At least that would show the student understands and can apply what they have studied. After, when you go to look for work, they tell you that even though you know, you cannot apply in the real world so they need some years of work experience. Where am I going to get work experience when you don’t want to hire me?
What is even annoying is, while we were in school acquiring this education for 4 years, someone started a business and is now successful and I am now about to start that journey.
At the end of the day, when you are unemployed sitting on your veranda in your house, brain drain is occurring because you are still not applying what you learnt in school. At least when the graduate travels, even though there is brain drain, he would still come back and maybe set up a business or spend some money in our brown pastures country.