More often than not, I am tempted to ask if people sat in the classroom to learn urban planning.
I keep wondering why people decorated with professional accolades like planners and entrusted with a responsibility to use their acquired knowledge and skills to plan a city would rather supervise an indiscriminate building habit.
They watch people put up building anyhow anywhere anytime without regard for waterlogged areas and farming lands in sprawls.
Today, it is no longer surprising to see computer science students and graduates shamelessly take their personal gadgets like computers to wayside repairers to fix basic problems. It appears the boys at Kwame Nkrumah circle are better educated in this than the students and graduates in this field.
Business students can only balance a sheet on a sheet of paper but cannot tell where in life a balanced sheet will better a life. Pretty much like the science student who balances all chemical equations and emerged victorious in class but cannot identify the chemical when they see one.
It is such an irony that after graduation the first class tourism student still does not have a clue how tourism can inure to the benefit of the nation, talk less of planning to make a fortune out of it for themselves.
The sad reality is that far too many people go to school to acquire certificates with which they will decorate their egos. Whatever that certificate means beyond being an ornament is inconsequential to them.
Where lies our fate as a country if we cannot utilize the knowledge gained from the classroom to solve our problems?
If knowledge from the classroom cannot solve basic societal problems, of what use will that knowledge be to industry? If the knowledge is of no use to industry how will the bearers of this knowledge be employed?
If they are not employed how will they survive?
There seem to be too many questions than there are answers.
The fact of the matter is that our educational system is weak to say the least. It focuses more on grooming students for the next stage of study rather than solving problems. It places more emphasis on examination, which measures only knowledge necessary to pass paper-pencil test (a test that can’t pass the test when tested).
No good foundation is laid to aid the realization of the purpose of education. Memorisation is being mistaken for learning and high academic records as a yardstick for measuring the ability of students’ creativity.
Our system totally abandons the individual uniqueness, ignoring the fact that no two brains are the same, not even identical twins.
As Albert Einstein puts it, everyone is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid. Ironically our system judges fish, sheep, cattle, goats and birds by their ability to fly.
Exams only make students compete rather than collaborate their ideas. After the exam what is next for students? Continue to compete? Obviously not, they need to collaborate, cooperate and coordinate their ideas to solve problems or satisfy a societal need. But our educational system teaches less about collaboration.
It is also not surprising that the numbers of unemployment keep rising. Recent past figures from the Ghana statistical service show that the unemployment rate for 2015 sadly stood at about 11.9% of Ghana’s Labor Force.
This was reported by Ghana’s statistical Service after undertaking a survey on the basis that, one was available for work and not working.
According to Dr. Bawumia in 2016, 48% of our employable youth were roaming the streets of the country in search of jobs (both graduates and illiterates) to the extent that we even have Unemployed Graduates Association.
While we wait on President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s government to make available a database of unemployed people he promised, we can only imagine that the statistics quoted by Dr. Bawumia two years ag has doubled.
There is every indication that the situation is largely borne out of the growing disparity between academia (classroom) and industry (world of work). Exactly what one would expect if the curriculum is being prepared by policy makers who may not have a clue how the classroom looks like and whose children will not be affected by it.
In order to ameliorate this problem of academia and industry variation and the unemployment trend, our educational sector needs to undergo a rigorous structural reform to improve the quality of graduates we produce at every educational level.
Our curriculum should be geared towards creating an atmosphere of continuous innovation and improvement to the individual and the society at large through the very people who administer these courses rather leaving it in the hands of policy makers.
Educational surveys must be inculcated into industrial reviews and industrial requirements too must be infused into the educational system because the two must be congruent enough to provide mutual benefits.
As often said, the standard of education of a country cannot be higher than the quality of its teachers. In the stride to sustain and produce quality and responsible graduates, questions should be asked as to which kind of teacher is required and what should be done to produce teachers of that quality.
Good education can change anyone but a good teacher can change everything. We need good teachers and not just any teacher who will groom and train our future leaders into robots who only act on instructions.
Dr. Ben Carson was not academically good through elementary school, yet today he is an inspiration to a lot because he made it in life.
Bill Gates never completed the university but became the richest man in the world. All these are indications that examinations and high academic laurels should not be our focus; quality should be the pride of our workmanship. Innovation and imagination is what will continue to bring forward unprecedented levels of achievement in terms of our mastery over our natural resources.
To move forward as a nation and productively utilize our human resource base, the quality of our education for the upcoming and existing populace must be essential to industry. Focus must move from competition to collaboration in the academic sphere. It’s not enough to know. Use the knowledge to better society.
By Pascalina Abadum
The writer is a graduate of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).