- While I congratulate both father and son on their achievement, certain questions are begging for answers.
Written By Doreen Hammond - Last week, Viemens Bamfo, a 12-year- old boy who gained admission to the University of Ghana, made headlines.
He had been admitted to study Public Administration through distance learning at Ghana’s premier university.
Viemens was the youngest of the nearly 3,000 students who had been enrolled at the University of Ghana.
The feat made news because most children enter the university at an average age of 18 and also because he did not go through regular schooling. He was taught at home by his father.
The father, who was justifiably excited, revealed during a media interview that his investment of time and energy into his experiment had paid off. He believed in his vision, worked towards it and had achieved it.
In fact, this is not the first time a child way below the normal age of entering the university has been recorded. Not too long ago, a 13-year-old gained admission to the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) and there have been a few more.
While I congratulate both father and son on their achievement, certain questions are begging for answers.
As a result of home schooling, Viemens did not go through the traditional classroom setting where he would have had the opportunity to interact and play with classmates and peers.
He did not also have the experience of doing things among a group and taking instructions from a teacher, who would normally come from outside the home environment. His father was his teacher and all he knows is what his father has taught him in addition to what he has learnt through his own initiative.
His proud father in an interview on an Accra FM spoke about how he used to wake his son up at 3 a.m. to start studies etc.
The education of children in the country is a structured one with a curricula which involve more than classroom work. It involves co-curricular activities such as games, physical activities, excursions, etc. All of these are designed to bring up the child in a holistic manner.
The critical questions are, what effect will his lack of opportunity to mingle with friends have on him? Is it for nothing that we educate our children in the manner we do? Or are we doing so because we lack the resources and ability to do what Viemens and his father have done? Is there a policy on home schooling or we can all decide to do as we deem fit for our children?
To this question, the Chairperson of the Ghana Education Service Council, Mr Michael Nsowah, answers that there is no policy on home schooling in the country and, therefore, there are no structures, regulations and institutions to support it.
Mr Nsowah said it was mandatory that every child went through the nine years of schooling before entering a tertiary institution.
Asked if the GES would encourage such education, Mr Nsowah said if there were some institutions to support that, it would.
Another question I ask is: what was the purpose of rushing the child to grow? Now that he has been enrolled in the university, the likelihood is that he will finish at a younger age than usual. So will he apply for a job as a child with other adults, or his father will set him up to do his own job?
It is exciting that Vienams has gone ahead of his mates, but has our society the systems in place that make room for people who do things the unorthodox way?
Cases abound where children have been forced to grow up overnight, especially in the sector of entertainment, and the results have not been very pleasant. The Pop star, Michael Jackson, is an example.
As it is, I think Viemens has lost part of his childhood and I do not know how that will reflect on him in his future. Viemens says he has the ambition of becoming the President of the country in future.
Would it not have been more beneficial if he had been allowed to mingle with others to experience the different cultures and temperaments of the people within the country he intends to lead?
Viemens hopes to study constitutional law, the political systems of administration, principles of management, economics and accounting.
How about the other subjects he has not been taught which would have exposed him wider? Viemens and his father deserve an applause for achieving something out of the ordinary, but as a people, is this the way we want to go?