Declining fortunes restrict opportunities for rural children(Oct 3, 2016)

Ghana’s current economic circumstances and its declining fortunes in the quality of accessible education make it unlikely for children in rural parts of the country to make it in life, two distinguished personalities have observed.
According to the Executive Chairman of Jonah Capital, Sir Sam E. Jonah, and a former Minister of Finance in the Kufuor administration, Mr Yaw Osafo Maafo, the performance of public basic schools is so poor that they are almost incapable of producing students who can easily gain admission to the top senior high schools.

They contended that most of the nation’s elite today were not products of private schools in the days of old, but rather public schools that offered quality education, even in remote villages.

The observation came in view of public concerns about the declining standards of the country’s public basic schools, which have seen increased enrolment but little to celebrate in terms of performance.

They were speaking at the launch of the autobiography of Professor S.K.B Asante, a historian, which chronicles the life of the author, some aspects of the history of Ghana and the inner workings of the United Nations system, as well as other regional and inter-regional organisations.

Education levels playing field
Sir Jonah launched the book and observed that there were many prominent Ghanaian personalities such as Prof. Asante who had achieved notable success despite coming from humble beginnings.

“They faced many social obstacles, made many personal sacrifices and received very little financial support and yet were able to achieve what others could not. In their case, the education system, which provided a level playing field, made it possible for the likes of Prof. Asante to blossom in spite of the odds,” he said.

But he said the same could not be said of the system today as today’s younger generation, particularly those from rural areas, would likely never have “access to the resources and opportunities necessary to support their individual development.”

“It is devastating how heavily the odds are stacked against them. This, for me, is the greatest tragedy of our times and it is a tremendous waste of the potential of our human capital, which without doubt is any nation’s best asset,” he said.

The former AngloGoldfields Chief Executive rallied the country to deal with the situation and warned that the social, political and economic problems the country faced would further worsen if the situation was not tackled.

Public schools not competitive? 
Mr Osafo Maafo recalled that in his days in the middle school, seven of his colleagues were admitted to some of the best secondary schools, including Achimota School and Mfantsipim, from one class.

He, however, said there was no way pupils from that school could sit the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) and get admission to those schools today because of the fallen standards in the country’s education system.

“My question is: What has gone wrong. Is it that the public schools have gone so bad that they are not competitive or the private schools are so well established and improved with strategies that the public schools cannot cope?

“What kind of legacy are we leaving the next generation? There is certainly a problem that we should look at because the bulk of the population is attending these schools but they are not competitive. Is it that the private schools have become so competitive or that during our time, there were no private schools? he asked.

Mr Osafo Maafo said the current situation was a problem that policy makers, Ghanaians and politicians, should be concerned about as it needed to be dealt with before “it blows in our faces.”

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