Prempeh Endowment Fund
SEP 14, 2018 —
SEP 14, 2018 —
The Amanfoɔ Selection Committee (ASC) is the foundational decision forum for PEF. This is a broad representative structure of Year Groups to the PEF. It is analogous to the “parliament” where plans as discussed, prioritized and selected. The ASC structure mimics that of other effective Alumni Foundations in worldwide.
Each Year Group may elect 1-2 ASC representatives who would relay the aspirations and concerns of that year group to the PEF. A web based electronic voting system would be used to facilitate a global democratic selection process. Such a system has already been designed and tested by some Amanfoɔ volunteers.
The term of an ASC Member would be three years. A third of the ASC members would be rotated out each three years (like the US Senate) to ensure retention of capacity. The ASC is expected to convene at least quarterly to deliberate on matters of the Foundation.
The ASC shall be responsible for selecting PEF officers and the Corporation Administrators.
Final plans for the school shall be approved by the ASC and rectified by the directors. Projects expenditure exceeding $10K will need assent by the ASC.
In effect the ASC is at the very heart of the democratic and open system of the PEF. We expect all Year Groups to have active representations.
A pilot scheme is currently in progress to roll out full functionality of selecting ASC representatives. It is highly encouraged that Year Groups who are ready to nominate and elect their ASC representatives should contact the PEF directors to initiate the process.
For more information about the operational structure of the ASC, click here.
Supporters of Prempeh College in Ghana or donors who would like to contribute in the Ghanaian currency, Cedi, may do so using any one of the following options:
For more information, please click here.
Supporters of Prempeh College in Ghana or donors who would like to contribute in the Ghanaian currency, Cedi, may do so using any one of the following options:
4.1 Wire Transfer / Direct Payment
Prempeh Endowment Fund
A/C No: 0150094504870701
ECOBANK GHANA LTD
A&C Shopping Mall Branch
Jungle Road, East Legon
PMB GPO – Accra
4.2 ECOBANK App
Download the Ecobank Mobile Banking App
|GOOGLE PLAY STORE||APPLE APP STORE|
4.3 Mobile Money
For each of the above options, it is strongly recommended that you use the Memo/Description field to indicate your House and Year Group.
If you have questions about giving to the Prempeh Endowment Fund in Ghana, please call 0244844171 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Board of the Prempeh Endowment Fund (PEF) empowers an investment committee of four-seven members. The Investment Committee shall have full power and authority to make decisions related to investments of the school. The committee may select and authorize the engagement of such agents, advisers, brokers, and attorneys, as it deems necessary to aid it in the proper discharge of its duties. The investment committee has responsibility for the fund’s investment performance. The investment committee ensures that the optimum investment result for the endowment is achieved by focusing on good governance. The members of the committee serve a 5-year term subject to renewable for a maximum of 2 additional terms that may or may not run in succession.
PEF strives to work with parties who support resolutions that encourage (and oppose resolutions that inhibit) the implementation of reasonable sustainable practices and environmental and social responsibility. The Investment Committee is tasked with ensuring that the endowment continues to be invested in a manner consistent with—and supportive of—PEF’s mission and values regarding ethical, social, and environmental issues.
Committee Members 2018 – 2023
Senior Mensah is an experienced investor who has managed funds with assets in excess of US$1 billion. He is currently Managing Director of Ghana Re-Insurance Corporation. George started his professional career in 1993 with Merrill Lynch Asset Management (MLAM) as a Financial Accountant in Princeton, NJ USA. He later joined Prudential Financial in Newark, NJ as Senior Analyst within the Investment Management Research team and was responsible for ensuring that portfolio managers had the ability to achieve superior returns in both up or down markets. Following his relocation to Ghana, George held management positions as Assistant Director in charge of Treasury and Investment at African Reinsurance Corporation and Executive Director, Head of Investments at SIC Insurance Company. He has served on several Boards including Ghana Stock Exchange, NTHC Financial Services, Afram Publications Limited and Starwin Products Limited, a pharmaceutical company in Ghana. George holds an MBA in Finance from the Stern Business School, New York University, New York, New York, USA and a BSc in Accounting and a minor in French from Montclair State University, Montclair, New Jersey, USA.
Senior Tawiah has over 25 years of experience in finance and management. He is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Core Afrique Investments Limited, an investment advisory company he foundered in 2004. Prior to that, Frank served as the managing director of Equatorial Cross Acquisitions Limited, a finance company that was influential in raising equity for the development of the corporate plaza in the Airport City enclave in Accra, Ghana. Frank is very knowledgeable in Finance, Accounting and Taxation and has previously lectured on those subjects at GIMPA, Accra. He has served on several corporate boards including Emerald Properties Ghana Ltd., Darlow Ghana Ltd., Capstone Capital, and Spintex Inc. Frank is a Chartered Financial Analyst and a member of CFA Institute. He holds an MBA from the Schulich School of Business, at York University, Toronto, Canada with specialization in Corporate Finance, Investments and Accounting and a BSc degree in Chemistry from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana.
Henry is an Advisor at the Australian Treasury, and in his current role at the Foreign Investment Review Board Secretariat, his objective is to ensure that foreign investments in Australia are in Australia’s national interest. He is very skilled in international relations and international economic law and policy, having contributed to key outcomes in a range of sensitive matters on behalf of the Australian government.
These have included being a negotiator in:
Henry was called to the English Bar (Inner Temple) and has been admitted to the degrees of Master of Laws in Banking and Finance (Queen Mary, University of London) and Master of Commercial Law (University of Melbourne).
He lives in Canberra with his wife and two children.
Senior Kwapong has extensive experience in finance and management. He is currently a board member of Nordicom-Denmark, a real-estate investment group in Denmark and serves as a board member of Ecobank Ghana. Hene Aku has previously held management positions at Exxon Mobil Corporation, Senior Manager at Microsoft Corporation, Vice-President at GE Capital, Senior Vice President & Treasurer at the New York City Economic Development Corporation, Vice-President at Deutsche Bank, and Chief Operating Officer EMEA Credit at Royal Bank of Scotland in London. Since 2014, he has been engaged in consultancy tasks in restructuring and launched The Songhai Group, a corporate development company. He serves on audit committee, risk, and governance committees in his board roles. Hene Aku studied Chemical and Nuclear Engineering at MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. He obtained his PhD in Non-linear Systems Dynamics from Columbia University, New York, USA and an MBA in Economics from the MIT Sloan School of Management, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.
Janeen Judah, 2017 SPE President.
Several years ago, I was at a Texas A&M University football game in a suite sponsored by the dean of the College of Agriculture, so not my usual engineer crowd. I introduced myself around, and one of the other guests said something I still remember, “I work for the Gates Foundation. My job is to give away Bill Gates’ money.” I remember thinking what a great job! Wouldn’t everyone love to play Santa Claus with Bill Gates’ billions? Wouldn’t we all love to be able to have Bill Gates’ impact on the world as his foundation invests in global development, health initiatives, and US education? In a way, we do. Global, multinational companies often make commitments for local infrastructure as a condition to do business in host countries. These infrastructure projects often require companies to build clinics, schools, roads, and power and water supplies in areas where the local government cannot or does not provide them. Oil and service companies are not different—we often build community projects, but they don’t always last. I have traveled extensively in Africa, and in more than one country, I have seen faded USAID signs on dilapidated clinics and schools. US tax dollars set up this needed infrastructure, but the projects are not sustainable because there aren’t local agencies with the ability to run them. These development projects are part of the risk our companies take to do business in developing nations, and we all hope for a reward for the local communities with real, sustainable improvements in their lives because we were there. But these development projects don’t always work as planned. I first realized the power of oil company cooperation with local nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) many years ago in Latin America. An oil field was located in a rural area about 4o km from a large city. The community had a local elementary school; but for high school, students had to travel into the big city. As a result, many local kids didn’t attend high school. Girls were especially likely to drop out because their parents were concerned about safety and traveling home often after dark. There was a real need for a high school in the village near the oil field. The operator had made a commitment to invest in the local community and had already built a health clinic, which the governmentstaffed with local doctors and nurses.
The high school was the next priority project, but there was jockeying between local politicians over who would control the funding and the school. The operations manager was a career expatriate who knew that cash handed over to the local government would evaporate. The solution: Allow nuns to run the school. In Latin America, everyone could agree on the Catholic Church as honest, professional educators. The operator built a home for six sisters, including the principal, next to the school, and they ran the school honestly and with the children in mind.
Unfortunately, the story has a sad ending. Even with a successful partnership for several years, ultimately, the government became more unstable and failed to keep up its end of the agreement to both the clinic and the school. The health ministry stopped paying the medical staff and providing medical supplies, so the clinic closed.
The high school had become so successful that enrollment swelled so the nuns ran two shifts of students. Unfortunately, the government stopped paying the lay teachers, providing books and supplies, maintaining the school, and it also closed. The perfect “three-legged stool”—partnership for implementation and sustainabiliry among industry, an honest-broker NGO, and a government ministry—failed.
There is certainly a lot of activity worldwide to develop infrastructure projects through public-private partnerships (PPP). In Europe and the US, PPPs are used to finance toll roads and privatize and redevelop utilities and water works. Investors put up the money in return for a share of the improved project’s revenue stream. This is an investment, not aid. In developing nations, PPPs are often funded by wealthy nations via the World Bank or regional development banks such as the Africa Development Bank. Projects include power, transportation/ roads, telecom, water/sanitization, education, and primary health. World Bank-funded projects have been dominated by relatively low-risk countries: Brazil, China, India, Mexico, and Turkey. Oil companies often operate in far less developed countries, where the financial risk is simply too high for private investors and development banks. Yet, oil companies are usually required to include local development as a component of developmentprojects. I believe there is a great opportunity for us as an industry to partner more with governmental agencies and NGOs to make our community development projects more sustainable. What’s different about oil companies?
We often operate in far needier countries with literally no infrastructure.
1 We are committed to community investment as part of our concession or project agreements.
2 We are not interested in a revenue stream or return. We have no profit motive from the infrastructure investment; we’ll make our money from production.
We can execute the development project alongside our projects, taking advantage of our supply chain and contractors.
1 We are there to stay for the life of the field or project: 20, 30, 4o years.
Oil companies are excellent at execution. We know how to manage projects, build facilities, and drill wells. We have extensive supply chains that allow us to import goods into far-flung countries. NGOs have their special strengths with running clinics or schools, providing front-line medical care and training local staff. But they often struggle with logistics such as importing specialized material into countries and building facilities.
Governments and ministries are often cash-short and fail to followthrough with staffing, maintenance, and consumables such as medical supplies and books. In researching this article, I encountered a whole world of governmental and academic research on sustainable development in emerging economies. For example, I suggest you read about economic history and development in the writings of Douglass C. North, winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize in economic sciences. Of special interest is Violence and Social Orders (2009), in which he explains two types of social orders— “natural” states and open-access or modern societies.
! Also, I met with Andrew Natsios, former administrator of USAID, and now at Texas A&M University and aworld-known expert in international development. Issues with oil company local development and government-driven development programs are strikingly similar. Natsios’ article, “Nine Principles of Reconstruction and Development’ (2005), echoes many of the main issues oil companies encounter when pursuing local development projects and helping to create sustainable communities: ~
1. Ownership. The community must “own” the project.
2. Capacity building. Transfer of technical ability to deliver.
3• Sustainability. Design projects so their impact endures.
4. Selectivity. Target investment where interests align.
5• Assessment. Design for local conditions.
6. Results. Have an objective before starting.
7. Partnership. Collaborate with government, communities, private sector, NGOs, etc.
8. Flexibility. Adjust as needed. 9• Accountability. Design accountability and transparency into the project and guard against corruption.
.Sound familiar? Efforts to coordinate private industry, local development, and governmental agency links are out there: the Shared Value Initiative (http://sharedvalue.org/), Business for Social Responsibility (hops://www.bsrorg/en/), and the Niger Delta Partnership Initiative (http://www.ndpifoundation.org/).
Private industry (including oil companies) is doing more to improve on the nine principles, most especially ownership and
sustainability, so that the impact lives on. In fact, an excellent example is the “Green Revolution” of the mid-loth century, in which modern plant hybrids and agricultural methods are credited with saving the lives of a billion people from starvation around the world, chiefly in Mexico, Pakistan, and India. Norman Borlaug, i97o Nobel Peace Prize winner, is credited as the “Father of the Green Revolution:’ It’s worth a quick Internet search to learn more. Fundamentally, oil company operators and development organizations both work on a long-term, 20+ year development window. Politically motivated development can look for a quick fix, while sustainable societal change may take a generation. When oil companies enter a region, we are almost always in it for the long haul—to develop and produce along-term asset, develop local staff to run it, and improve the lives of both the immediate communities and the overall country’s economy. We all want a better world. Oil companies are already partnering with countries for the long term. Industry and governments can work together to create real, sustainable improvements in communities and countries where we operate. But, of course, we can be more successful if we have other organizations partner with us to create sustainable communities. My example of the programs in Latin America demonstrates what happens when one link in the chain fails. We can do better; we achieve greater reward when we work together fora commoncause. J PT
Members of the 80/82 year group have been guided by this maxim from the Good Book, “To whom much is given, much is expected.” We are ever mindful of the debt of gratitude we owe Prempeh College for the invaluable life lessons inculcated in us during our formative years there. Lessons that have shaped and molded us into people we have now become.
We were trained academically and spiritually in an atmosphere which enabled us to form life-long friendships – friendships which have formally coalesced into the 80/82 year Group. Our goals among others is to be each other’s keeper and also to pull our resources together to assist in alleviating some of the numerous infrastructural and logistical problems bedeviling our alma mater.
It’s in the pursuance of the latter goal that our year group in commemoration of our 30th anniversary of admission to Prempeh undertook several activities to benefit our school in 2005. To help address the chronic water shortage on campus we donated eleven poly-tanks (one for each house and the remaining two to the administration). We also organized a formal event to honor the foremost Amanfuor of the day, the-then sitting President of the Republic of Ghana, HE John Agyekum Kufuor and his chief-of-staff, Mr. Kwame Mpianim, also an Amanfuor. We honored outstanding staff with awards. We then held a dinner for all staff and faculty as well as the student body.
We were in the process of purchasing several toilet seats in 2016 for the school when we got word that another year group had already committed to doing the same and were far advanced in their preparation than we were. We therefore gave up on that project to re-think our next step.
It was in the midst of deliberating on what we could do next for our school that we got word about the Prempeh Endowment Fund (PEF). After “meeting” with Senior Kwapong on our WhatsApp platform, he was able to fill us in on the origins of the PEF, its goals and objectives, management structure and the lasting benefit it could serve our alma mater. He was gracious enough to answer our questions and shed light on how the PEF would operate.
Needless to say, the general consensus after the “meeting” was that the PEF is well thought out and deserves our serious attention and consideration. As stakeholders in the future of our alma mater we saw the PEF as providing a long-term solution to the present norm of assisting our school on ad-hoc basis. While not being critical of our past efforts, those efforts can at best be described as haphazard, uncoordinated, duplication of efforts leading to excessive attention to some areas while others were neglected. This band-aid approach was not adequate in seriously tackling the myriad of problems facing our institution. We needed change and a new approach.
The PEF offers us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to lay a solid foundation upon which we can erect the edifice of securely-structured, well-coordinated, systematic and reliable source of assistance for our school. The fund which will be professionally managed will bring transparency and accountability to endowment process. It will also tap into a wider network of donors thereby broadening our donor base beyond alumni.
There is no doubt that there might still be a few kinks to work out such as ensuring that resources sent to the school will be used for the assigned purpose, accountability at the implementation level, etc. but we are on board in using the PEF as a vehicle to contribute our quota to Prempeh’s betterment and future development.
We have provided functionalities on Prempeh.com to provide the tools for Amanfoo to organize around logical groups especially around respective Year Groups in furtherance of marshaling resources and talent to help the school. Here are some of the features we want to highlight:
Your profile is similar to Facebook-like profile where you can share, post photos, and connect as friends with other Amanfoo.
There is a social networking feature to enable your group community to connect using profiles, groups, and more.
To create a group for your community (eg. year group), please send a request to email@example.com, with the name of the group.
An email subscription feature notifies members of a group when other members post content. The notification is done by email, and is totally configurable. Each member can choose, for each group, how he or she wants to be notified – (1) No Email; (2) Weekly Digest Summary; (3) Daily Digest Summary; (4) New Topics Email; or (5) All Email. Members can also determine what kind of group activity that want to be notified about.
Document creation feature “adds collaborative work spaces to your community. Part wiki, part document editing,” Docs provides a robust way for members to collaborate on group content. Permissions can be set to control edit and view privileges. Version control is automatically maintained, and members can revert changes, or simply track a document’s evolution. Documents can be tagged, sorted, and filtered.
There is also a group forum functionality. It allows members of a group to start forum topics, create discussion threads, tag content, and easily add images and links.
We are inviting year groups to organize on the platform to make it easier to stay in touch for the benefit of a great school.
We are in our next phase of making Prempeh College the school of choice again. With the launch of the Prempeh Endowment Fund (PEF), we are asking all Amanfoo, friends and supporters to register to be counted.
Registration is through the website, www.prempeh.com/register, which has all the information to help educate all interested parties and also serves as a communication platform to help us create a community for all alumni and friends of Prempeh College.
The Directors are inviting all Amanfuo to register and join this effort to work collaboratively to make planning and support for the school both meaningful and sustainable. We are also encouraging each and every one of you to help spread the news to other Amanfoo you know by forwarding this post.
By Godfried Foli Arthur
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give” – Winston Churchill
Wait no more!! The promised and indeed, the much anticipated Prempeh Endowment Fund (PEF) is launched. This project was borne out of numerous conversations with Prempeh College stakeholders where it became clear that an Endowment Fund (EF) is the wave of the future since the status quo hasn’t worked or helped. The fervent desire to give back to the school that nurtured us sent a group of seniors and consultants to work, and the end product is a well-developed endowment fund (EF) four all Amanfoo to give back to Prempeh College. This is the Prempeh hubris we have all grown to accept and love to project among our equals.
We realize that a school spanning almost seven decades has an Alumni who are always ready to lend a helping hand if the right call is made or the right approach employed. We also realize or recognize that it takes a collective effort in a novel project like this to bring people together and work towards a common cause like what is envisaged here with the EF. Therefore, the establishment of this EF now gives us a new avenue to make a lasting and a more sustainable contribution to our Alma Mater. It is in fact a way to support the needs of Prempeh College with practically no time commitment. Simply choose how you want to donate to the Fund through various provisions provided.
“It takes each of us to make a difference for all of us“-Jackie Mutcheson
By Sakyi, Kwesi Atta
Ghana, as a nation, has come far on the educational ladder, right from the ECM (English Church Mission) and SPG (Society for the Propagation of the Gospel) church schools in the castles, which were ran by Rev Thomas Thompson and Philip Quarcoo. Then came Akropong Akwapim Training College in 1848 founded by the Presbyterian Church, Mfantsipim (formerly Richmond College in 1876 founded by Kwaa Botwe), and Achimota College in 1919 founded by Governor Gordon Guggisberg. Before those, we had Fourah Bay College in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
Education is the process of exposure to superior and quality knowledge, as well as empowering educatees with valid knowledge so that they have critical thinking skills and faculties to make informed, better and quality decisions which will add value to the quality of their own lives, and lives of others, and in the end, help resolve socio-techno-politico-economic (PEST), and national problems.
Can we vouch that in the light of the aforementioned definition and inferred objectives of education, these noble objectives of education are being attained by the current products of our pre-tertiary educational institutions in Ghana?
A.N. Whitehead, the renowned English philosopher and educationist, once wrote that, ‘Education is the purgation of the crudities of the mind.’ Thus, from this quote, we infer that education is a process of refinement of the brain such that base and crude ideas are rid of through expungement, annihilation, extirpation, and banishing of darkness, socially, mentally, physically, and morally by imprinting on what John Locke referred to as the ‘tabula rasa’ or the analogical blank sheet or uninformed mind of the child.
It is a never-ending and continuous process of enlightenment to know and uncover the truth. Is our current educational system in Ghana achieving those goals set by Whitehead in his definition, and are we imprinting the right things on the ‘tabula rasa’ of the children? Confucius once said that the future of a country depends on the quality of education its citizens receive, and the quality of leadership of a country is as bad as its citizenry or a reflection of it.
The Pestalozzi principle of education aims at training the head, heart, and hands of our tutees so that they can think rationally, become passionate about noble and national causes, and become creative with their heads and hands in adding value to the GDP. Can we say that our current educational system in Ghana is achieving those noble goals set by Pestalozzi more than 300 years ago? As a nation, what are the educational goals that we set for ourselves, as defined by the ruling party’s manifesto and policies, and by the public interest?
It is, however, gratifying to note that the World Bank from 2014 to 2019 has set aside 156 million dollars towards the Secondary Education Improvement Programme in Ghana. This is in partnership with the government, and it is in recognition of the falling standards of education in Ghana which Brig General Nunoo-Mensah recently referred to severally and generically when he said that, ‘the country of Ghana was rapidly going downhill in all spheres of life’. An American documentary on Ghana which was made in 1994 ran a commentary pertaining to the falling standards of education in Ghana. I could not better concur with these views.
The OECD recently published a report of a survey taken of 15 year olds from 76 countries, and Ghana happened to fall at the tail end of the league table which was compiled by them. What a sad story to befall our beloved country! The World Bank amount of 156 million dollars which is to be spent between 2014 and 2019 is targeted at 23 selected Senior High Schools in Ghana, to help them improve on quality delivery of educational services.
What kind of education are we giving our children in Ghana these days? Are we giving the right dose of holistic education which will make our students and pupils self-reliant, tolerant, honest, patriotic, innovative, inquisitive, diligent, globally competitive, technologically-savvy and au-fait, and above all, selfless or altruistic?
Is our educational system inspiring confidence in our students to appreciate their self-worth, become appreciative of beauty in nature, beauty in their surroundings, and kindle in them high appreciation for aesthetic beauty in art works, music, sculpture, crafts, dance, poetry, folklore, scholarship, temperance? Are they being properly prepared to become cautiously futuristic, optimistic, and humane in all their noble endeavours?
If we examine the levels of crimes and moral turpitude prevailing in all spheres of life in Ghana today, we will be wont to conclude that the quality of education being delivered now has gone down from the previous high standards. It will be highly subjective to measure such criterion but then the evidence of frequent and rampant telling of lies, soaring levels of corruption and cheating in our nation are barometric indicators which are there for all to see, and there is no need to develop metrics to measure such an elusive phenomenon.
For purposes of this short write-up, I shall narrow education down to basic education received up to senior high school level. This write-up will also examine why we have mediocrity in Ghana today, explore the genesis of vices such as corruption, greed and avarice, examination leakages, political kerfuffle and disquiet, media obfuscation, and in general, national malaise and social atrophy in the Ghanaian body polity.
It seems that we have two main types of parallel education in Ghana today, leading to education apartheid or separateness. On the one hand, we have some modicum of quality education found in the so-called (in Ghanaian terminology), elite private international schools at the primary and Junior Secondary school levels, where educational standards are relatively quite high, and fees are astronomical, beyond the reach of most average Ghanaians. (Of course, we have the high or upper end of the market world-class international schools for expatriates and the super-rich.
This market has schools such as the Ghana International School, Lincoln International School, S.O.S Herman School in Tema, among others. These are in the international circuit and they are not meant for majority of us on account of their steep charges which are denominated in foreign currency. These schools have international curricula which they follow such as IB, Cambridge A Levels, IGCSE, and the American schools’ syllabus).
On the other hand are the mass ‘cyto’ or public primary and junior secondary schools where in most cases, school buildings are dilapidated, school furniture is hardly found, teachers are inadequate, overworked, and relatively poorly remunerated. Instructional materials are scarcely supplied, and teachers in some cases, for most times, are doing sinecure jobs. Some school pupils in rural areas learn under trees. Some of their dilapidated buildings have their roofs blown off during heavy tropical storms. This is the typical scenario for most poverty-stricken families in poor rural communities, and even in the old towns which have experienced declining economic fortunes.
Pupils are mostly deployed to work on farms, or they do some communal labour such as weeding or construction work to help raise some funds for the school kitty. In such schools and environment, academic learning is relegated to a secondary status as the aim is to be seen to be going through the motions of delivering some kind of education, with no regard for quality. When we talk about quality education, we mean total, comprehensive, and holistic education that touches the head, heart, and hands of educatees and tutees.
Run-down school infrastructure is normally found in the remote areas of Ghana where school inspection and supervision are hardly existent. Educational institutions in the public primary and junior secondary categories in Ghana have become havens and incubators for ‘sakawa’ or internet fraudsters, breeding grounds for loafers, rabble-rousers, armed robbers, a place to grow up, and in general, the sans cullotte repository.
This is so because students and tutees are not academically engaged and challenged by their instructors, teachers, and tutors. Sometimes, students become disenchanted, with bleak prospects facing them in the job market, and so they lose momentum for learning. The plight of these half-baked and potentially dangerous drop-outs reminds one of the poetry of Alexander Pope who intoned;
A little learning is a dangerous thing,
Drink deep or taste not the Pierian Springs
Where shallow draughts intoxicate the brain
And drinking deep sobers the mind once again
~ Alexander Pope
Boys and girls in these cyto public schools can hardly speak good English as some resort to the easy way out – what is usually termed Pidgin English or patois. They hardly can spell simple English words correctly. Many cannot construct nor write simple grammatically-correct plain words of good English. I always bow down my head in shame whenever some of these Ghanaians are interviewed in the international media on TV or on air, and they stutter and fumble a lot with the way they express themselves in the English Language, creating a sorry sight for themselves, and cutting a poor image for our country.
We are not saying that we want to train students for educational grammar or scholarship, but then for them to be functionally literate and employable or effective as entrepreneurs in the global village, they need to be well-rounded and well-grounded in basic literacy and numeracy, reading skills, good writing skills, logic, rhetoric, eloquence, interpersonal and communication skills, among other areas of epistemology and pedagogy.
Ghana used to be a role model for other colonial African countries in terms of our high levels of education. Our judges and magistrates used to be deployed to superintendent work in some of the neighbouring countries, working for UAC, and the colonial judicature and civil service. Our soldiers in the colonial West African Frontier Force distinguished themselves in various fields of endeavour during the World Wars in Camerouns, Abbysinia, Burma, among others. Those included people like Lt Gen Emmanuel Ankrah, Major Anthony, Lawyer Aduamuah, Sgt Mike Adjavon, Sgt Adjetey, among others of blessed memory.
The list at the beginning of this write-up informs and refers. Of those listed there, some were international diplomats of repute with UN agencies, Commonwealth Secretariat, distinguished academics and researchers, scientists currently at NASA, among others. They are products from the old school. But now we have lost it, and we are far flung at the bottom of the global league table of academic ranking. Of course, our universities are still of great standing in Africa. Whether we like it or not, English has become the international or universal language (lingua franca), and a vehicle for communication and instruction in the world of commerce and industry, in the on-going process of globalisation.
Of course, it is cardinal and imperative for us to get our kids first to value and appreciate our rich heritage and lore in the local languages and culture, and then extend the knowledge gained therefrom in mastering the English Language. After all, it is often said that charity begins at home. Some Ghanaian critics parochially view mastering of the English Language as part of cultural imperialism. Need this be the case? What about the Chinese, Koreans, Japanese, and others who are falling over themselves and making every effort to learn English in order to drive their businesses in the global milieu?
The thesis of this write-up is that we do not have to crowd the timetables of our beginning students with so many subjects as to make them functionally illiterate in the basics of reading, writing, and basic arithmetic. Do we believe in more is better than less or is it a way of keeping the masses at the bottom so that the few monetised and ruling classes will continue dominating and keeping the status quo ante?
These elite can afford to hire part-time teachers for their children, and also provide them with a conducive environment for their wards to excel academically in the BECE and WASSCE examinations. Even though there is a policy of Free Compulsory Universal Education in Ghana, outcomes of education are not commensurate with what one will expect in a Middle Income country like Ghana.
The table below from WAEC shows the increasing numbers of candidates who write the Senior High School exams from about 500 SHS public and 288 private secondary schools in Ghana. It is reckoned that an average of 21% candidates manage to obtain grades between A1 and C6 to go on to tertiary institutions. In 2014, there were 422,946 candidates from all the 10 regions who wrote the exam, comprising 223,765 male and 199,181 female;
WASSCE PASS RATES
2014 2013 2012 2011 2009 2008 2007 2006 YR
28.10 19.15 31.19 26.00 14.58 12.95 10.58 12.51 %
Number of Candidates for WASSCE
YR 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Number 395637 350899 372826 376859 391079 422946
Why are we toying with, and treating education in Ghana to Cinderella looks? Are we practising factional elitism in order to create a wedge between the well-educated minority elite on the one hand, and on the other hand, the functionally illiterate majority? Why do we rush to build many schools where trained teachers cannot be found, and where we do not have the wherewithal to procure instructional materials for use by pupils?
The statistics enclosed here below indicates that Ghana is among the global front-runners in terms of allocation of GDP to education. Denmark, Iceland, Finland and most Scandinavian countries are global leaders in education, healthcare and general welfare of their citizens. It is commendable that the figures below show a rising trend of educational budget allocations for Ghana, being above the UN recommended minimum of 4% of GDP to be allocated to education. However, it seems the problem lies in the utilisation of funds for planned and intended purposes, and other lapses in the system such as poor budget oversight. Arthur Okun refers to the fungibility of donor funds and likens it to a leaking bucket.
Expenditures on Education in Ghana as Per cent of GDP
YEAR 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005
%GDP Exp 8.1 5.5 5.3 5.8 5.5 5.3 7.4
Source: World Development Indicators Sept 2014
Is quality not better than quantity? Is it not better to use the little resources to improve the quality of existing infrastructure than to dissipate the resources in providing more schools which become like empty shells? In some communities that I know of, new schools were built but no pupils could be found in the catchment areas which are populated by very old people, whose grown-up children and grandchildren have domestically migrated to the cocoa-growing and heavily forested areas. These migrants periodically come back home during Gomoa Two Weeks Festival or during other festivals.
Timetables of junior secondary school students are crowded and populated with 10 fanciful subject areas such as ICT, Basic Design and Technology, Religious and Moral Education, Social Studies, Integrated Science, Mathematics, among others. At the end of their programmes, some of them will not have physically seen a computer or a chisel in their lives or even a test tube, beaker or flat-bottomed flask, or electric cooker/oven, and yet they are supposed to take BECE and WASSCE examinations in ICT, Science, Basic Design and Technology, among other subjects.
I had occasion to read some of the textbooks of my daughter who wrote her BECE in 2013, and I was shocked to realise that their ICT textbooks were 20 years behind time. Many of their textbooks are poorly written with factual errors and they are poorly articulated. Most authors were just rushing to press to make money and not to deliver quality. Their English textbook was equally poorly written and not well articulated or illustrated.
In 1986, the current junior and senior secondary school systems came into being to replace the old 6-4/5-2-3 system which comprised 6 years primary education, 4 years middle school, 5 years secondary school, 2 years sixth form, and three years university. The author went through that old system of 6-4/5-2-3. The current system is 2-6-3-3-4, comprising 2 years kindergarten, 6 years primary school, 3 years junior secondary, 3 years senior secondary, and 4 years university.
Under the current system, most students do not complete studying their secondary syllabus, and then they are rushed to write final exams because the time duration is short, syllabus content is dense and bulky, some teachers are not committed, among other hurdles. Students are forced to learn and regurgitate stock answers because the BECE and WASSCE exams are structured in a way, requiring specific stock answers, and students are not awarded credit for critical thinking nor allowed the freedom to think outside the box when answering questions in the exam. Could this be one reason why there is an upsurge in exam malpractices in Ghana, and also decay in moral standards?
It seems to me that the whole aim of the current system of education is to first frustrate as many students as possible to drop out or fail the exams, or to produce programmed robotic students who can pass exams through producing stock answers. Is this quality learning? Are we producing critical thinkers who can be creative and problem-solvers? Are our students going to be successful when they meet their counterparts from other parts of the world? Will this type of stock learning of programmed answers produce quality national leaders?
What do you expect from such a flawed educational system? There is high incidence of functional illiteracy of most pupils, prevalence of rote-learning, institutionalisation of dichotomised education, rampant cheating, persistent corruption, among other vices and negative consequences. Prior to the exam period, students are gripped with panic and there is pandemonium, and bedlam preceding exams.
Head teachers and teachers become desperate to record high pass rates for their schools, parents want their children to have certificates at all cost, pupils become anxious and restless to obtain good credits so as to gain admission into tertiary institutions, school proprietors want to attract more custom, and they may resort to buying question papers, among other motives and underhand methods.
Our current state of Ghana reflects this dysfunctional educational system, as shortcuts become the norm because of lack of proper moral foundations.
Politicians who emerge from such a system see nothing wrong bribing the electorate to gain power because power is the ultimate prize which must be attained at any price in this world of survival of the fittest, and Hobbesian state of nature of Leviathan. The contractor sees nothing wrong using inferior materials in construction. The building inspector who should know better is easily fobbed off by bribes in brown envelopes. The pastor will willy-nilly give false prophecy so as to scare the hell out of his congregation so that he can fleece and milk them. Goro boys and leeches emerge at passport and visa offices, expecting their cuts from frustrated and prospective applicants and candidates.
Judges swing the pendulum of justice in the direction where their bread is heavily buttered. Law enforcement officers play to the gallery and free culprits who can grease their palms. Male lecturers award high marks to beautiful but undeserving female students who will pander to their lust. Town planners turn a blind eye to bribes when prospective builders entice them to overrule professional advice for them to build in unpermitted areas. The upshot is a nation of disorder, greed, gross disrespect for time-honoured conventions and standards, and a mad rush for short term gratification.
The list of vices goes on ad infinitum. All these vices stem from our flawed educational system. Perhaps, I am claiming high moral ground here, and in this bleak scenario of doom and gloom, there could be a few people out there who have still not lowered their guard, and are still playing by the book. I doff off my hat to them and urge them to be the standard bearers of hope and recovery for our dear nation. We salute such staunch adherents and sticklers for rectitude. Yes, charity begins at home, so we need our educational system to inculcate high moral lessons in our tutees. There needs to be a tsunamic revolution in education to get out the dross and rot from the system, or else we are doomed as a nation forever.
Some of the problems bedevilling our educational system include poor teaching methodologies and lack of commitment by teachers and pupils, the inadequacy of instructional materials, lack of support from PTAs and communities, late release of Government Capitation Grants to schools, inoperability, collapse, and lack of vision of most politicised District Assemblies/Local Government structures and their dereliction, among others.
All these mean that our students and their teachers will resort to finding shortcuts such as mass examination question leakages, mass cheating in exams, influencing the issuance of exam results, forged exam results and certificates, among other vices. Do we have to blame the policy of Free and Compulsory Universal Basic Education enacted in 1996, and the Educational Reforms of 2002?
Why can’t we simplify basic education to include just a few salient subjects, and incorporate the 3Rs of reading, writing, and arithmetic as the building blocks and foundational material for future advancement? Better still, to remain globally competitive; let us give our junior and senior high secondary students STEM education with emphasis on the Sciences, Technology, English, and Mathematics as it is done in Scotland, Ireland and other countries which have quality education. Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Iceland and Netherlands are successful economically, socially, and politically because of their high quality educational standards.
To be globally competitive, we need to pay attention to quality teacher training and providing teachers with higher incentives. Our policy-makers in Government need to sit up and come up with better policies because our future prosperity as a nation lies in investment in human capital via quality education and quality health care delivery. These two sectors are a desideratum and sine qua non for rapid economic and social development.
Let us develop a new educational paradigm which will strategically position our educational system to meet our national needs as well as help our students and tutees come abreast with their counterparts in other parts of the world.
It is a pity that whilst many countries are getting their best students into Ivy League and Russell universities in the USA and UK respectively, to elite institutions such as Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Yale, Stanford, UCLA, MIT, Imperial College, Caltech, Dartmouth, Sorbonne, among others, our students are only struggling to compete at sub-regional level for WASSCE dominance. How are our future leaders going to have clout and influence in rubbing shoulders with the graduates of such advanced, powerful and elite global institutions? They will have no powerful networks to enable them pull the stops and call the shots, especially when it comes to international negotiations.
It is a sad scenario to witness many of our school dropouts from our current dysfunctional educational system in Ghana becoming street vendors, foot soldiers and political party cadres or zombies, taxi drivers, Sakawas and internet fraudsters, prostitutes and pimps, Mediterranean boat migrants, among others. This is sheer waste and needless attrition of human capital, and also a waste of scarce resources. The factionalisation and dichotomisation of Ghana right now along political party lines, tribal affiliations, interest groups, and religious groupings, does not augur well for the future.
We are currently producing students who seemingly have breadth to their education, but there is no depth. We are having mass quantitative education rather than laying emphasis on quality. Our current students have become very aggressive in articulating issues but they lack substance, and I bet many cannot make it far on the knowledge ladder whereby they can produce books or contribute to academic discourses or become inventors like Apostle Kwadwo Safo, or become quality leaders in future. They have become the noise makers and serial callers of our time, forever on cell phones, and making incessant calls to our call-in radio shows where they talk shallow and offer no quality ideas.
The very fabric of our educational foundation has been eroded by political chicanery and poor policy articulation. We have, like the ostrich, buried our heads in the sand and become oblivious to the stupendous advancements taking place in the global village. We are busy building fanciful estates and infrastructure but paying little attention to the quality of education. In fact, for purposes of political expediency, our current politicians are obsessed and infatuated with the massification, fragmentation, and scatterisation of education, so much so that resources allocated to education become very thinly spread on the ground.
We pay lip service to making quality education accessible to all and with no child left behind. Do we put the money where our mouth is? Have we set our priorities right? If our students come out tops in regional WASSCE exams, is it any worthwhile achievement to celebrate? In other countries elsewhere, they are coming out tops in globally competitive exams such as IGCSE, SAT, GMAT, IELTS, and International Baccalaureate (IB), and yet they are not trumpeting their successes or politicising them.
In Ghana today with high rates of poverty and unemployment, many are the people whose children have no dream of accessing quality education due to poverty. Many are the people who cannot access quality health care due to the same reason. Is access to quality education a right or a privilege? Why do we have a parallel situation of one type of quality education for the minority rich and another type of inferior education for the majority poor? Such a scenario leads to perpetuation of class struggle, and a recipe for revolution.
Is it selective social marginalisation engineering or political malfeasance? What future does this scenario hold for our dear country Ghana? Where are the patriots? Where do we stand as a nation where every Tom, Dick, and Harry now believes that being dishonest, mischievous and Machiavellian is the norm because the end justifies the means, and not the other way round?
What values are our students acquiring from schools, and from the national psyche? What sort of education are our students receiving these days? What moral or immoral lessons are they taking from our leaders? What kind of leaders will they be when their time comes? Why is everybody in a mad rush for power, material wealth, and vainglory? Can we start teaching moral philosophy, psychology, mythology, literature, civic education, and religious tenets in our schools to halt the greedy, crazy, and avaricious trends?
Can we start taking measures and interventions to stop the rot and functional illiteracy in our schools? Can we stop dichotomisation and factionalism which are creeping their way imperceptibly into education? Don’t we need a unitary and functional educational system for national cohesion? These are the worries of a concerned citizen, and I hope thinking aloud, is thinking allowed.
Founded in 2016, the Prempeh Endowment Fund is a private, nonprofit organization that raises and invests private contributions in Prempeh College while advocating for and advancing this transformative secondary school's mission and brand. Learn more.....
The Prempeh Endowment Fund is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to advancing the pursuit of excellence, broad access to quality education, and meaningful societal impact of Prempeh College students.
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Prempeh Endowment Fund
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