Influx of Students from Where?


Dec. 19, 2014


Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa
Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa

At a forum hosted at the Accra International Conference Center, recently, the Deputy Minister for Tertiary Education was widely reported to have asserted that the fact that a lot of foreign students were attending Ghanaian institutions of higher learning was adequate testimony of the country’s quality of education being among the best on the African continent (See “Influx of Foreign Students Sign of Robust Edu System – Ablakwa” / 12/19/14).


The foregoing assertion raises several questions. The first of these regards the fact that Mr. Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa does not base his observation on verifiable statistical data. For instance, his claim that 10,400 international students have traveled from North Korea, Pakistan, America, England and Argentina, among several unnamed others, to school in Ghana, ought to be squared up with the number of institutions available per Ghana’s population, compared with the number of foreign students schooling in some of the other top-ranked nations on the continent and their populations and available institutions and their ranking on the continent. Then also, the public needs to know about the breakdown of courses being pursued by these foreign students. He needs to also tell Ghanaians what the case has been in the past, as well as the factors that induced this state of affairs.


For example, several Nigerians that I have encountered who schooled in Ghana mention the relatively cheap tuition fees as the primary reason for deciding to school in Ghana, and not the fact of their belief in Ghanaian higher education being of a higher quality than that of Nigeria. Mr. Okudzeto-Ablakwa would also do himself and the rest of us great good by looking at the rankings of tertiary academies on the African continent to have a better and more realistic perspective on what he is talking about. I sincerely doubt that the National Democratic Congress’ Member of Parliament for North Tongu, in the Volta Region, fully appreciates the concept of a “critical mass,” when it comes to discussing the percentage of foreigners attending Ghanaian institutions of higher learning. He may also want to conduct a temporal review of the country’s literacy rate since independence and the trend of the same over the course of the last half-century.


You see, it is one thing to throw figures around vis-a-vis the number or percentage of foreigners attending our tertiary academies, and another when it comes to the question of the percentage of Ghanaian citizens with access to and acquisition of a college or university education. This is what human-resource development is about. The fact of the matter is that the quality of Ghana’s educational system prior to the advent of Chairman Jerry John Rawlings’ so-called Revolution continues to be the template by which those of us who are old enough to remember envisage the practical and ideological concept of vintage and/or qualitative education. The very superficiality of his analysis of the true level and quality of Ghanaian tertiary education, clearly means that Mr. Okudzeto-Ablakwa came of age well after the peak season of postcolonial Ghanaian education.


Almost nobody who has recently conducted a critical survey of Ghanaian tertiary education thinks that our crop of students today and recent graduates are a marked improvement on that class of my contemporaries who graduated a generation ago, when the anti-intellectual rot set in motion by the Rawlings Revolution began to slowly and steadily take effect.


In reality, however, the bulk of the problems besetting the general quality of education in the country are at the preschool and elementary levels. In short, the true quality of the country’s educational system can be best measured by assessing the quality of primary or basic and secondary educational systems, for this is where the candidates of our tertiary academies are selected from. And so far, Mr. Okudzeto-Ablakwa has not given us any palpable reason to believe that Ghana has a relatively sounder quality of education than that of countries like the United States, where Mr. Okudzeto-Ablakwa’s own kid sister has been schooling, England, Argentina, North Korea, Nigeria and even Pakistan.


Indeed, Prof. Ayi Kwei Armah may very well be accurate about his famous observation that ‘the “beautyful” ones are not yet born,’ but I really don’t see any formidable and qualitative Ghanaian ripostes for Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Buchi Emecheta and, most recently, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Come on, Mr. Okudzeto-Ablakwa, get a grip!


By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

Garden City, New York

E-mail: [email protected]


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