Former First Lady, Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings has lamented the wastage involved in modifying the country’s JSS and SSS education structure without allowing it time to fully mature.
She said the JSS and SSS system was introduced to replace an educational system that had deteriorated and collapsed due to the poor state of the country in the run up to 1979.
Nana Konadu said: “…having introduced the JSS system, it should have been allowed to run for at least 20 years with corrective mechanisms to improve lapses as we go along. As changes were made in 2005 or 2006, a very critical look at the curriculum should have been taken. There was absolutely no need to change names.”
Addressing the launch of the SRC week celebrations of the University of Education, Winneba, Mrs. Rawlings said: “Some historians are doing a disservice to this country by not bringing out the truth about the political, social and economic history of this country for young people to know where we have come from and be part of where we are going.
Nana Konadu also called on students not to fall for the allures of cheap political influences that corrupt the youth but encourage bipartisan discourse that respects individual political dispensations.
Below please find the full text of her address:
ADDRESS BY NANA KONADU AGYEMAN-RAWLINGS, FORMER FIRST LADY AND PRESIDENT OF THE 31ST DECEMBER WOMEN’S MOVEMENT AT THE LAUNCH OF THE UNIVERSITY OF EDUCATION SRC WEEK – WINNEBA, APRIL 11, 2012
Mr. Chairman, Hall Tutors, students, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:
It is an honour to join you here today as you launch activities marking your SRC Week.
As Ghana’s foremost university for the training of professional educators, it is only appropriate that the theme for the celebration is: “THE ROLE OF THE UNDERGRADUATE IN PROMOTING QUALITY EDUCATION THROUGH PEACE AND COHESION”.
Ladies and gentlemen, I will like to rearrange your topic to read as, “Peace and Cohesion should transcend partisan politics to positively promote education”.
Let us go into our historical past for a few minutes - I remember in 1982 when it became absolutely necessary to look at the Ghana education system, (in spite of the fact that Dr. Nkrumah had built a number of schools in Ghana) when through mismanagement,corruption and economic decadence Ghana was declared a collapse state, every institution including the education system collapsed.
· Infrastructure collapsed or became dilapidated.
· Teachers all left Ghana to Nigeria (Agege), Sierra Leone, and even to Liberia. If South Africa had not had an apartheid system, perhaps many Ghanaian teachers would have gone there as well.
· Most classrooms were empty of teachers.
· Children who remained in school and did not or could not pass the then Common Entrance Examination to enter the secondary schools had to continue to standard seven (7) middle school level certificate.
· Most children by that time who had not been helped by parents or guardians to enter secondary school could hardly read or write. In fact we were turning out children who were illiterates but claimed to have gone through school.
· No child had un-torn uniforms and some had different shirts and shorts since the clothing was khaki on khaki, and the clothing factories had all collapsed and were therefore not in production. Children in government schools wore no shoes or even ‘charle wote’.
· Teacher training colleges were churning out teachers who themselves were semi illiterate, had no tools to learn with, definitely no tools to teach with and most of them left our shores for greener pastures even if it was to be house staff for Nigerian families.
· The system in the training colleges collapsed as the trainers also left and abandoned the teacher colleges and schools to their fate since there were no tools to instruct anyone who came for teacher training.
· In fact from 1965-1982/83 the educational system in Ghana saw nothing but a downward spiral trend with nothing to stop it till we saw the 31st DecemberRevolution.
Some historians are doing a disservice to this country by not bringing out the truth about the political, social and economic history of this country for young people to know where we have come from and be part of where we are going. For example;
· How the educational system collapsed?
· How the educational system was reconstructed to become strong again?
· How the JSS and SSS system was introduced?
· How the Polytechnics were increased in number, under the PNDC and improved to accommodate the excess number of students from the secondary schools?
· How teacher training was re-introduced and improved?
· How nursing training and Midwifery were all restructured and reintroduced in a better way?
Today, having introduced the JSS system, it should have been allowed to run for at least 20 years with corrective mechanisms to improve lapses as we go along. As changes were made in 2005 or 2006, a very critical look at the curriculum should have been taken. There was absolutely no need to change names.
· Can you imagine the amount of money spent on new letterheads paper for all the schools?
· Reprinting of new certificates to read JHS/SHS not JSS and SHS?
· Have we quantified it in money terms?
· What could we have done with this huge amount of money that went into printing and other books and exercise books?
The biggest lapse was not to have improved infrastructure or structures before increasing the number of years. The issues for our schools are:
· To add more resources
· Improve of teachers facilities
· Improve student learning facilities
· Innovative ways of teaching and training children and making it interesting.
· Discipline and upbringing
· Curriculum – to make students employable.
· And most importantly improving the teacher training institutions for quality training and innovativeness
Education of a nation is highly political but not partisan and it needs a strong political decision for its implementation. I am saying this because without a strong policy support grid, which nudges societal behaviour, and institutional culture in the right direction, the future of society, which rests on a strong educated population, will be grim.
Going through your institution’s website, it was quite instructive to note that the university “is charged with the responsibility of producing professional educators to spearhead a new national vision of education aimed at redirecting Ghana’s efforts along the path of rapid economic and social development. The University of Education, Winneba is expected to play a leading role in the country’s drive to produce scholars whose knowledge would be fully responsive to the realities and exigencies of contemporary Ghana and the West African sub-region” and I daresay the world.
Ladies and gentlemen, what this means is that, once you enroll here as a student, you study to become an educator of our society. You play a significant role in moulding the quality and direction of our society.
Carrying the mantle of an educator, it is your responsibility to equip your students with the ability to think creatively: to think beyond the syllabus you should encourage opposing views to yours since this is a sign of creativity, and you know that society grows on creativity.
For you to be able to graduate as competent but mostly passionate educators who can impact positively on our society a lot of hardwork lies ahead of you not just academically but also emotionally. However, it is the ideals you acquire out of the lecture rooms that will actually mould you into effective educators fit to impart knowledge to our children.
Ladies and gentlemen, for students to successfully achieve their objective of becoming successful graduates and responsible citizens of society, it is important to build upon your leadership capacities while you are undergoing training. It is imperative for all students not necessarily to pursue leadership positions, but develop leadership skills and capacities through participation in student activities such as clubs, groups, and foras that offer opportunities for students to lead, and learn to work with others while understanding the complexities of delegating responsibility and roles. An educator cannot be efficient if he or she lacks exemplary leadership qualities.
The most valuable of these ideals are truth and integrity. Many of our educators have so much knowledge and have passed out from theirtraining institutions with flying colours but unfortunately, they lack the level of professional integrity required to teach others and make them responsible members of society. Having integrity is not an easy task, sometimes you find yourself standing alone but yet that is the test of integrity.
So my dear young people gathered here, as you celebrate the SRC Week let us use this opportunity to create fora that will instill and inspire us to embrace truth and integrity in our daily dealings. Emotionally there will be times when you may doubt your reasons for being here, but digdeep into your soul, for you are the teachers of society.
When you take the path of truth and integrity, there may be times when you find yourself alone among your peers. But behind you will be thousands of children on whose lives you have impacted positively and who look up to you based on this one principle that you have exhibited.
Ladies and gentlemen, addressing quality education starts with you. As young people still learning to become responsible citizens and in your case responsible educators, I plead with you not to fall for the allure of cheap political influences that are thrown at the youth, but to encourage aprogressive dialogue among your students and among your peers. Let us develop a young population of students who can have positive bipartisan discourse while respecting their individual political persuasion.
If we expect to achieve peace and cohesion then we have to be bold to say no to these allures. Yes, students of voting age have to be politically active. Encouraging political activitism at a young age builds the youth into excellent leaders of tomorrow, but allowing yourself to be corrupted at such a stage in your life is detrimental to the political development of our country.
Let us use occasions such as the SRC Week to re-inculcate in our colleagues the ideal of agreeing to disagree. Tolerance, patience and respect for others rights encourages togetherness. You have a responsibility however young or old you are, to contribute to the political sense of direction of this country and you should not hesitate to offer that contribution.
Mr. Chairman, students, ladies and gentlemen: The primary focus of the student of University of Education is to graduate and become agood educator. I have already mentioned several of the ideals you require to become a good educator but primarily you must have good moral character and be ready to sacrifice to improve the lot of society.
Thank you and good luck with your SRC week celebrations.
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