27 November 2012

Ghana: Na Laptops No Wo Hene?

The New Patriotic Party's Nana Akufo-Addo has expressed strong reservations about the way and manner the ruling National Democratic Congress is 'toying' with education in the country, with its "One Laptop per NDC Supporter" policy.

"This NDC government appears to think that the education of Ghana's children is a political toy for them to play with," Nana Addo noted.

The NDC has, in the run up to the December elections, embarked on a massive distribution of rlg laptops to students in the various tertiary institutions. The names of the beneficiaries were recently published in the national dailies.

But, as it turned out to be, some of the schools listed as beneficiaries do not exist, or the laptops vanished into oblivion, or the recipients unknown in other cases.

The Pentecost University, for example, has denied that the names published as beneficiaries of these laptops were students of the school.

The Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology, which did the allocations, explained that there was a swap of names of beneficiaries of the Pentecost University with that of the Presbyterian University College.

But, the question which remains unanswered, is which of the students took delivery of the laptops at the Pentecost University, as it has become obvious that the laptops found their way elsewhere, other than the Pentecost University.

Nana Addo, who commented on the development where laptops were being used by the ruling government as a means of soliciting votes from students, said the phenomena was a sorry development in the country's body politic.

Nana made this observation while delivering a speech at the University of Cape Coast, on the theme 'Education: the key to transforming Ghana.'

Nana Addo reiterated the commitment of the New Patriotic Party to continue with the sound educational policies started by the Kufuor administration, which were abandoned by the Mills/Mahama administration.

"They (NDC) reduced the duration of Senior High School (SHS) from 4 years to 3 years for no reason, but because it had been done by an NPP government.

"The results of the past two years have shown students who spent 4 years at SHS performing excellently at the West African Senior School Certificate of Education (WASSCE). The phenomenon of Second and Third World War, which was the name given to students sitting the exam over and over again, disappeared," Nana pointed out.

Using Singapore as an example, Nana Addo noted that at independence from Britain in 1957, and then separation from Malaysia in 1965, Singapore had no assets, other than its deepwater port.

Its population was illiterate and unskilled. It had few natural resources, substandard housing, and recurring conflict among the ethnic and religious groups that made up its population. Singapore, at the time, imported most of its food, water and energy.

But, he noted that Singapore's leaders decided to make education the focus of all developmental efforts, adopting education as central to building the economy and the nation.

"Once the decision was taken, they rapidly built schools and recruited teachers on a large scale. Within six years, they had attained universal primary education, and by the early 1970s, they attained universal lower secondary education, and they have never looked back since then.

"Today, Singapore is widely acknowledged as having one of the world's leading economies, and most advanced and successful education systems. In a country with no natural resources, this is a remarkable feat, and reiterates what one of its Prime Ministers famously said, 'The wealth of a nation lies in its people'," he noted.

According to Nana Addo, the NPP intends using education to drive the country's industrialisation process.

"This means there will be emphasis on Science, Technology and Technical and Vocational training. Why are we willing to entrust the most expensive investments into the hands of poorly trained artisans?

"Mechanics who handle our expensive cars, carpenters, masons, plumbers who build our houses must be properly trained and educated in the technological advances that move economies.

"It is the technicians that will mostly determine the quality of our workforce, and we shall put technical education in its proper exalted place," he emphasised.

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