Written By John Boakye - Recently, a study conducted by Times Higher Education (THE) in London showed that the University of Ghana, our premier and best university, ranked 2,980 among the world’s universities.
Again according to Ranking Web of Ghana Universities 2017, the top 10 universities in Ghana are (with world ranking in brackets):
1.University of Ghana (2063)
2. Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Tech (2568)
3. University of Cape Coast (3177).
4. University for Development Studies (4217),
5. University of Education (4489)
6.Ghana Technology University
7. Ashesi University College (7557)
8. University of Mines and Technology
9. University College of Communication
10. Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration.
The score varies depending on such factors as research and teaching quality but it simply shows even our best is not good enough. Our quality of education is defective and does not meet our needs.
If the needs of a society are not met through quality education, society is left behind, poor and misdirected. Today some studies suggest over 75 per cent of what we consume are imported – from plantain, eggs, tomatoes to matches, salt, fish to cars, mobile phones to used clothes. It is hard to see how we can make a financial breakthrough with our heavy dependence on imports for local consumption. No country ever made it this way.
The problems of education in Ghana
Our educational planning is ineffective. All levels of our educational systems are strongly grammar based lacking content in technical and vocational skills. We encourage qualification rather than application of useful skills, conformity rather than innovation and unthinking acceptance of qualification rather than application of knowledge. We love academic qualification because like most African states, academic qualification is main criterion for status, a basis for social differentiation and the most important mechanism for individual adjustment.
Again if you visit any of our Engineering Faculties you will understand why a mechanical engineering graduate will wait for JSS dropout wayside mechanic to fix his faulty brakes for him. He knows all the theories about motion and friction but lacks the skill to apply his knowledge in practical ways.
This year we may have about 100,000 graduates coming out of our tertiary institutions but about 90 per cent may not have acquired stills to start anything on their own. According to a study by ISSER, only about 10 per cent of graduates find work after graduating and some have to wait for as long as 10 years to get a job. The association of unemployed graduates must remind us that unemployment among graduates is a critical problem in Ghana.
All levels of curriculum must be restricted to train the hand, head and heart to promote our human values such as integrity, innovation and high performance. It must also reflect our vocational and technical needs because no nation can develop without technical and vocational skills. It must also promote human values such as integrity, innovation and high performance.
In the present situation a lecturer is in full control of a lecture room. He directs how and what must be taught and encourages rote learning by requiring students to know information restricted in the syllabus.
Some lecturers even in graduate courses dictate notes to students and we now have ‘contractors’ who sit in the comfort of their rooms, conjure topics and data and write out beautiful thesis for undergraduate, graduate and doctorate programmes for a fee. This must change.
Teachers and students must be partners and sharers of information as they create a friendly learning environment. Together they form the key to academic success.
Education alone takes about 32.3 per cent of the annual budget or by 2012 figures 8.2 per cent of our GDP. This is among the highest in the world (it is 2.3 per cent in Libya, six per cent in South Africa, 6.6 per cent in Belgium, 5.4 per cent in Morocco, 3.1 per cent in Guinea, and 1.3 per cent in Zambia).
This shows the importance government places on education. But we must stop and ask: is it the best to allocate about a third to a quarter of annual budget to about a quarter of our population when these same people enjoy the other provisions such as health, communication and infrastructure? We can sustain such cost only at the expense of other social provisions.
Individuals and society benefit from education. It is, therefore, reasonable to expect that both bear the cost of education. Some form of cost sharing in education will enable the government to make education accessible to more people, improve the quality of education delivery and alleviate the plight of lecturers who are poorly remunerated and ill-motivated.
Without cost sharing, especially at the tertiary level, we couldn’t expect a more purposeful education and our country could be poorer still.
Our poor global ranking
The poor global ranking of our best universities simply shows we have failed to use our educational system to get us out of our poverty. If our educational system does not prepare us to develop our nation, then we have missed our way.
Our poor ranking must be a wake-up call for introspection of all areas and levels of our educational system to get to the right path. We must always be mindful that a good quality educational system impacts positively on society and creates a prosperous society.
Education in Ghana must, therefore, aim at addressing our problems – poverty, ignorance, hunger and disease. These problems will always hamper our educational attainment. Simply put, we must use education as our greatest weapon to fight our problems.
The present huge investment in education with little returns and hence the poor global rating shows we have missed our way in formal education. It is time to rethink education in Ghana.
• The writer is an educationist and marriage counselor