Tue, Apr

Cassandra Twum Apofo says parents have the responsibility to ensure that their children study while they wait for their turn in school.

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To the Ghanaian educational system that I went through; it appears just like every other subject, including our so called technical skills subjects, they are all largely reduced to paper, pen, and scribbling...

 It is becoming clearer, more than ever, that the challenge of our government leaders is their inability to make a lemonade when handed a lemon. I have heard all manner of arguments made in reference to our educational infrastructure and quality challenges; yes, the challenges. I haven't really heard much about ideas that can help us make the best out of the situation; so I dare to share one here.

I will start by sharing a personal instance; Me and my wife have had interestingly different experiences growing up. While I have had the occasion to be in a class under trees, she has been through some of the best educational systems the world can offer. The differences in our education may not be immediately apparent; especially when it comes to demonstrating academic know how and other soft skills that may be acquired in this information age; by the sheer resolve of being an autodidact - which is, and has been my only saving grace.

To our differences - My wife has many handy skills that can start different enterprises - ranging from tailoring/knitting/crocheting and catering right through to pottery. In fact, she tells me they are presented with a gamut of crafts from which to choose every term. The boys were also compelled to take compulsory training in woodwork and metal work. So between my wife and her elder brother, they have the skill set to establish multiple enterprises that can produce utility items. I, on the other hand, am quite pathetic when it comes to even fixing a car tire; well I may laboriously figure it out when stranded.

The difference between her education and mine is that, she was equipped with practical skills to be self-sufficient; if she hadn't made it to higher levels of education after even the Junior High level.That way, in a society which provides this sort of education, it's easy for individuals to start small businesses without necessarily requiring additional investments of skills training from government.

To the Ghanaian educational system that I went through; it appears just like every other subject, including our so called technical skills subjects, they are all largely reduced to paper, pen, and scribbling - to the extent that most of our mechanical engineering graduates may need to send mechanical faults on their vehicles to roadside shops, where there are clearly challenges of adequate know- how. It is unquestionable that we get next to no hands-on skills in our educational system.

It is with regards to the above challenges with our education that I believe we can flip the challenges that confront us, leading to the double track system, into an advantage - where the period spent by students at home is made into a mandatory period for acquiring specific skills during each cycle.

To begin with, the GES ca open an enlistment of companies willing to support training students in specific skill areas when their track is not in session. The skill areas could range from IT through catering to carpentry. In my opinion, the first one and a half years of sessions spent by these students at home should be spent in IT institutions; by the end of which they must have mastered areas such as Microsoft Suite and one programming language. This is more crucial in view of the fact that it's a tech world today, and only the technologically qualified are fit to survive. This IT biased training can be enhanced by providing some tax incentives for the IT companies who take on these students.

For those students in remote communities where access to electricity and computers is a challenge, this is when we need to mobilize resources to establish community or district IT centres or make use of existing ones as well as provide self-sufficient solar energy packages to power these IT Centres. The Computer Science IT graduates under NABCO can be deployed to man such centres. The rest of their sessions while they are out of school can be spent on acquiring another handy skill or two.

There must be a report graded and endorsed by the companies in which these students go for such training, as well as the parents of the students - and their performance thereof can be added to their grading for the academic term. It must be compulsory for every student returning back from a session out of campus to have such a report duly signed and presented to tutors when they are back to school.

I believe setting up a system like the above will lead to the production of self-sufficient and far more rounded SHS graduates who will not have just passed along the conveyor belt of our education system. I am also of the firm conviction that the economic outcome of such a programme could produce quite amazing turn arounds in our micro-economic variables.

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