“The view was once generally held that there was no education in Africa before the Europeans arrived late in the 15th century.”3
Defining ‘to educate’ as, “To bring up and instruct: to teach: to train”4 and defining ‘education’
as, “Bringing up or training, as of a child: instruction: strengthening of the powers of body or mind: culture”5, then educating a person goes beyond the formal European system of learning to read, to write, and to do arithmetic. In every society, education begins in the home. A child is directly and indirectly taught to adhere to conventions of the home and society. Every individual with or without formal education will be educated to some degree whether or not his education is
‘acceptable’ to others is another issue.
Traditional education in Ghana varies per tribe. Each tribe has its own culture. For this reason, each tribe will educate its members differently in matters of language, governance, etiquette, acceptable behaviour, religious practice and everything to do with it unique way of life. Tribes had their own informal way of teaching through apprenticeship, rhetoric, experience and other methods. In some cases young people are gathered and taught special skills by elderly members of the society, in other cases some groups are taken away to secluded places for periods of time to be taught. Apart from the differences in training due to tribal differences, a child may be trained differently depending on the future role the child is expected to play in the society. For example, from the onset, a child being groomed to become a chief may be instructed very differently from one being trained to become a fisherman. Traditional education, in a sense, trained children to take up predefined roles in society, thus maintaining the society and its culture.
“The effectiveness and the practical aspects of this type of education are intimately related to the socio- economic milieu and to the importance of the heritage to be passed on to the next
3Antwi, Moses K., Education, Society and Development in Ghana, p. 23.
4 Chambers English Dictionary, p. 451.
5 Antwi, Moses K., Education, Society and Development in Ghana, p. 23.
generation…. It tends to repeat itself and remains static unless some kind of political or social upheaval brings about some fundamental changes.”6
The static nature of traditional education was changed by western political influence during the colonial period. Formal education was introduced gradually. Formal education also moulds a nation. From age 7 (at least), a child is expected to spend most of his time in school being educated. The hope is that, as the child is taught, the knowledge will preserve and improve life for the child and community. There is a hope that the basics given to the child will be the foundation for greater contributions to the society and eventually the whole of mankind.
Most lives are shaped most through the educational experience of the first few years. In Ghana there have been countless educational reforms. Currently, Ghana’s educational system comprises of 6 years of primary school, 3 years of Junior Secondary School (JSS), 3 years Senior Secondary School (SSS) and 4 years of Tertiary education (depending on the degree being pursued).
6 Antwi, Moses K., Education, Society, and Development in Ghana, p. 25.
The whole object of education is, or should be, to develop minds. The mind should be a thing that works. It should be able to pass judgment on events as they arise, make decisions.
- Sherwood Anderson (1876–1941) American novelist & short-story writer 2.1 Introduction
In this section, a frame work is created from the analysis of the literature that is examined. The deduced framework is what is used in the rest of the paper to asses the various regimes. In this section there are boxes used to give illustrations that may be helpful to clarify some of the points being put across.
Education has two sides to it. Too little or none of it, brings economic losses and too much or the wrong kind of it, does the same. The challenge of every country is to provide its inhabitants with the right kind and amount (or level) of education, that will enhance economic growth and general well being of the nation.
The lack of education can have drastic negative economic effects. An example is, without education there is no knowledge on how to prevent simple curable diseases. In this way the country loses productive human resources due to the lack of education. Similarly, without education some resources that would otherwise have been processed more efficiently produce very little, such as farm lands. How does one teach modern methods of farming to totally illiterate farmers who cannot read the labels on fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides and other crop enhancing chemicals? Either these enhancers are not used at all or they are used in wrong quantities causing harm to nature, the farmers and the consumers.
On the other hand education per se is no necessarily sufficient to secure economic gains. Some individuals have been educated to the extent that they will not take on jobs that are ‘below’ them and have become a drain on the society because this is a section of the population that has been educated (with national resources) and yet is not productive. When this segment of people take on
jobs that they are ‘over qualified’ for, such that they use very little of the training they have received on the job, the nation loses because the invested knowledge and skills go to waste.
Also in some sectors, such as health, the education given to personnel may become a drain because once the government has invested in these professionals they leave to more developed countries. The country that trains the human resource does not get to benefit from its services, causing a financial loss to the state. Money that could have been used in some other productive economic venture is lost.
In an ideal situation each job should fit into the economic framework of the country and there should be a person educated for each of these jobs. This ideal situation does not exist but, the imbalance in some countries is far more pronounced. There are many ways in which countries correct the anomaly between the ideal situation and reality. One way to do this is to open your borders to the labour you need from other countries. For this solution to be effective your terms of employment should be attractive enough to draw nationals with the requisite qualifications from other countries. Another way to achieve the desired labour mix is to make the educational system as flexible as possible encouraging rapid retraining for those who cannot find a place in the job market.
In a country such as Ghana the per capita income and salary levels are not attractive enough to consistently bring in the necessary labour even with borders open to the needed labour.
Unfortunately, the educational system in place also does not encourage quick retraining, making it difficult to achieve the necessary labour mix that will sustain the economy. Apart from being unable to correct the normal variance between labour and needed employment, developing countries lose the existing labour to the developed countries that open their borders and offer better conditions of service. Overall, even though there may not be the ideal match between labour and employment anywhere, there is a more serious mismatch in developing countries such as Ghana.