There are no adequate words in my cache of vocabulary to capture the importance I place on education. And, of course, I know that many of you share the same sentiments.
I honestly feel the burden of condescension to even broach the mileage of education to anyone with common sense. However, common sense is what is lacking in the Mahama administration when it comes to what is important.
Politicians from all the political divide are notorious for donning the father Christmas costume during every election cycle. Mind you, it’s not only in Ghana, it is a disease that plagues even well-educated electorates like the U.K. and United States. The results are becoming very obvious in the U.S. where President Obama, a bleeding heart socialist, has increased the U.S. national debt to astronomical levels in less than 7 years. The British electorates were sensible to have voted not so conservative, but a conservative government, which they retained this May, to gradually repair the damage wrought by the previous Labour government. Currently, though I don’t have much faith in the U.S. economy, with a self-proclaimed socialist like Bernie Sanders in serious contention to Hillary’s presidential bid, it still has the capacity to regenerate itself. Because the creative ability of the American population is still a force to be reckoned with. However, the same story cannot be told in our dear country.
Health is, unquestionably, extremely important; so is national security and law and order. When it comes to education my diction runs out as I have already stated. Nevertheless, the national economy trumps all these issues that are unnegotiable in our lives. The fact is without a healthy economy to generate wealth none of these essentials that we hold dear to our hearts can be financed. So why will President Mahama place education ahead of the economy? They will glibly answer back that it’s not true. Be that as it may, we have no option than to shoulder the weight of conducting a forensic check on the validity of the misinformation they saturate the media. The national debt is ballooning at a terrifying rate; this is the incontestable evidential proof that the national economy is not performing as it should. To a certain degree, our economy is on a life support machine.
Spending what we don’t have is one of the main causes of our economic predicaments. A whole oil refinery has been turned into a white elephant while we import finished petroleum products with our limited foreign reserves. This money could have been available to prop up the value of our currency, which has lost almost 290% of its value to the dollar since 2009. We are facing this problem, because some ridiculous socialist decided to nationalise Ghaip in 1977. We have a bloated civil services that consume the cream of our sweat. Besides, ordinary people who have no choice, but to use their service will have to bribe five people instead of two to get what they need.
Having a roof over your head is a paramount need. The question is can anybody with a functional grey matter sacrifice his business to erect a roof over his head? It will be suicidal to contemplate such an idea. Such actions are the preserve of Neanderthals. Unfortunately, this is the recommendation of the head of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, when President Mahama
addressed the organisation’s ambassadors in Paris. Of course, she did not suggest what I have outlined above, but what she said is nothing short of this nonsense. The following is the link to the piece on ghanaweb: http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/UNESCO-applauds-Mahama-for-free-SHS-386015.
I am all for free education up to the secondary level as outlined in our constitution. But I am currently dead against its introduction at a time when the national economy is running prodigious deficits that is harmful to our sovereignty. We mortgage our rights to the IMF, World Band and other donor institutions and we cry foul when they attach draconian conditions to the loans they offer us. The simple reason is that we are not credit worthy due to our fiscal deficit and the state of the economy.
I have no doubt in my mind that they value the importance of education, on the other hand, they are putting the cart before the horse. As much as education is essential there is no way you can compare that to the health of the economy. We need to survive first before we can cultivate our brains. You cannot educate a hungry man. A hungry man is an angry man. You cannot philosophise when you are hungry. That is why the economy is more important now than education. I know there some people who will twist my last statement to mean what it is not, and I know them by names. Don’t swallow their bait and fall for their semantics that only exist in the virtual world of reasoning.
Every modern economy needs functionally educated workforce. That does not mean that we have to put all our eggs in one basket. Most people who can read and write can train on the job to become business moguls. Quite a few of the people who transformed the world did not have any meaningful education as we know it. For example, Thomas Edison had three months of formal education, yet had 1,093 patent to his name, which is yet to be broken. Michael Faraday had just basic education, yet came up with one of the greatest world changing inventions – the motor. Benjamin Franklin had formal education till the age of ten, still he tamed the deadly effects of lightning with his lightning rod. The list is endless, especially when it comes to people who made it big time without any serious education. As far as I am concerned, there are certain university courses, which are waste of precious time and money. Students are being pushed through universities to literally read silly courses popularly known as Mickey Mouse courses – a term popularised by the British tabloids.
According to 2011 statistics Ghana spent 8.1% percent of her GDP on education, which was far in excess than that of Finland 6.8% Norway 6.6%, Sweden 6.8%, Denmark 8.7%, Iceland 7.4%, United States 5.2%, United Kingdom 6.0%, South Korea 4.9%, France 5.9%, Germany 5.0%. The foregone figures need to be interpreted. Our 8.1% expenditure, which was quite high, yet insignificant is due to the fact that our GDP is puny compared to the countries mentioned above. The GDP of, for example, United Kingdom was $2.549 trillion, which translates to $39,500 per capita. Since the population of the two countries are not comparable, I am going to use the per capita income. In effect, every person in Britain contributes $2,370 toward education while Ghana with our insignificant GDP of $108.3 billion, each person is able to lend a mere $332.10.
Now, if school children need laptops and first class tuition, the solution is not allocating a larger chunk of the GDP, but to increase the GDP. Anybody who cannot understand this simple logic is not fit to rule Ghana.
There are people who irrespective of their economic circumstances will engage in criminal activities. Nevertheless, there are those who are pushed into life of crime, and that is mainly due to our perennial economic hardships. A vibrant economy with decent paying jobs will co-opt such people to fight crime in the system. When people have decent paying jobs they will not even bother to send their children to the failing government primary schools. So the key is to build a better economy and stop massaging the little resources we have in favour of education hoping that someone will come up with some magic wand.
What is the point in educating the future generation with no decent jobs to absorb them? What we are doing is just minting thieves and criminal judges. Any additional money that is going into education should be reallocated to repair the feeder roads that are literally turning into death traps and artificial landforms worthy of study by students engaged in geological studies.
Philip Kobina Baidoo Jnr.