The Founder of Ashesi University (Ghana), Dr Patrick Awuah has lamented the high levels of corruption in Ghana’s public education system.
In an assessment of the three levels of the country’s education system, Dr Awuah lamented the lack of emphasis on academic merit and ethics in educating students.
He also advocated for a shift from rote learning to critical thinking and analysis in Ghanaian public schools.
“If my students are to be believed, In primary school just before they take the BECE exam, there are many teachers who encourage their students to cheat on the BECE exam, they actually coach them on how to do this,” he said.
Dr Awuah made this known last month when he addressed a virtual conference on higher education in Africa organised by the Council on Foreign Relations, Ghana.
Corruption in public primary schools
He said the Ghanaian society has been negatively impacted because of educators “teaching students to be dishonest as a way to get ahead”.
“At the primary level, quality is challenged especially in the public system, the public primary schools.
“You see reports that show that after three to six years of primary education the majority of kids are still not literate, they are not fluent, they cannot read fluently, they cannot communicate fluently.
“Their ability to learn across time, culture and geography is compromised when we don’t build that basic literacy”.
Challenges in SHS
Commending the impact of the government’s Free Senior High School policy, Dr Awuah noted that a lot more had to be done to ensure that every student who completes basic school gains entry into SHS.
He said a lot of the corruption that students learn in SHS are learnt at boarding school.
“…There’s a lot of corruption that goes on (in SHS), the prefect who collects a bribe to give a younger student a smaller chore to do in the boarding house, the senior student who bullies a younger student to get food from their chop boxes and that too is an education”.
He said, in public SHS, students learn that merit only matters in the classroom while seniority was important outside the classroom.
Dr Awuah said these students after completing higher education carry this mentality into their workplaces.
“This is part of the human capital that we’ve built within these students and some of those things they’ve learnt carry into the workplace where it is all about seniority and so on”.
Halt rote learning in higher education
He also called for an end to rote learning at institutions of higher learning in favour of analysis, critical thinking and debates to foster development.