In the movie “Lean on Me (1989)” Joe Clark (Morgan Freeman), who was formerly an old teacher in Eastside High School in Patterson, New Jersey was entrusted with the assignment to reform the school which has become a den of drugs and moron students. From wall to wall, order was destabilized and the school was nearing suspension by the community authorities.

Clark began his reform tactics by reshuffling the staff and involving the teachers close to the students in various activities. With an iron hand, correction rod and smiless face, Clark fought his staff, parents, community officials and notorious students to restore order in the school. From years of failing records in the general examination, Clark succeeded to beat the marginal passing grade level making the school to emerge victorious. Once considered a notorious school, Eastside High school became a model school under the visionary leadership of Clark.

This movie reminds me that change we can as long as we want it. In our current situation in Ghana, it seems everything is mix matched, from our educational level to politics. In stead of following a permanent order, we tend to wallow in temporally projects. An example can be found in the Ministry of Education whereby up to date we don’t have a permanent model for the SHS. The insatiability of politicians has disintegrated the senior high school educational curriculum living students torn apart in their carrier. I have always asked myself, when will we disassociate politics from our institutions to allow experts to govern them?

In the philosophy of education, John Dewey (An American educational reform) asserted that school and civil society must have a linkage. He saw that education must have an experimental intelligence. To him education must be practical not mere acquisition of content knowledge. In Dewey’s philosophy of education, education prepares the student so that he or she can have a command of him or herself. He wrote “it means so to train him that he will have the full and ready use of all his capacities.”

Having my education in Ghana, I learnt a lot about western civilization which formed a major part in my studies. I read about Plato, Socrates, Napoleon Bonaparte, and many others. But when I came to Europe and began studies, the same things I studied in Ghana seemed like an introduction to me. The books of these men were read, studied and interpreted as one does exegesis on the Bible. People who have studied in Europe will know that, the political structure in Europe have their basis in Socratism. I felt that my education in Ghana was a waste. Why did my teachers worry themselves teaching me Western literature whiles I belong to Africa?

My point is simple our educational system is not pointed to solve our problems in Ghana. It is full of western studies. How can we solve western problems? Then why should we fail our students for failing in western studies? Until our education is reformed to reflect our cultural and societal needs, our children will continue to study for financial security other than studying to liberate the society from its enormous problems. The nature of our educational system has virtually made all of us egoistic which has resulted in many corruption and created curiosity towards money.

If we are to talk of educational reforms we must first identify our problems and fashion our education system towards solving those problems. For example in Ghana we have problem with street demarcation and house addresses. Because of this instead of going to Koforidua, your GPS can lead you into an evil forest :). Are we to sit down for Google Company to come down and take such a project as contract before it is done? Until when will we give contracts to our own students or experts?

In the western world, they have western philosophy, western psychology, and all the other things associated with western. I’m yet to find an independent course thought under the heading Africa philosophy or psychology?

The time has come to fashion our educational system to make our students societal focused. We need practical education that can build cars, motors, phones and other digital gadgets for the country. There must be an investment in the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology to become a production unit for the entire nation. A big experimental laboratory must be erected for the nation whereby students in engineering, science and technology can undertake their projects to invent quality and digital products for the nation. So are we so blind that we can see what these nations are doing and learn? In other for us to have a revived educational reform, it calls for investing so much into education. Students must be exposed to anything which has to do with their areas of specialization. Texts books, equipped laboratories, friendly classroom atmosphere, well trained teachers et cetera.

Government must stop buying selfish aircrafts, expensive cars for ministers and invest this money in our children. Nobody buys a car for ministers in many other countries. They are paid and must manage just as everyone to buy their own cars. I guess there are a lot of scraps that must be shaken off from our system. If we can reform our educational system in this way, then change, we can change. In the same movie as I began with the article, when Clark arrived in the school, the teachers began to complain about the notoriety of the students. Clark responded to them that, “If you treat them like animals, they will behave like animals.”

Our children will become how we treat them. If we treat them to be money conscious, they will grow to be like that. If we treat them by providing in their hands the tools they need for societal development, they will not deviate from it. They will grow to solve our 3rd class road problems and construct better housing and streets for us.

Clifford Owusu-Gyamfi

University of Lausanne, Switzerland

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