By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Garden City, New York
The greatest problem of the Mahama-led National Democratic Congress (NDC) government, when it comes to the development of formal education in Ghana, is the shady politics of numbers. Eager to maintain and entrench itself in the seat of power, the NDC appears to be more focused on the number of school buildings it erects, rather than the government’s ability to maintain these schools in a manner that sustains a qualitative level of education in the long term.
This must have been what he was alluding to when during the 14th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana (GA-PCG), the Rt.-Rev. Emmanuel Martey called on the government to hand over the physical plants/structures of some two-hundred senior high schools that it intends to complete in the lead-up to the 2016 general election to the management of the mainstream Christian churches (See “Handover Establishment of 200 SHS to Churches – Presby Moderator” Ghanaweb.com 8/18/14).
In the main, Prof. Martey aptly predicates his call on the fact that the Christian churches in Ghana are unrivalled in the establishment and development of literacy and modern culture in the country. What is more, mainstream Christian churches like the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, the Methodists, Roman Catholics, Anglicans and the Seventh-Day Adventists continue to dominate the field of education in the country.
Prof. Martey would, therefore, have the government focus on the creation of infrastructural facilities and pedagogical supplies while these frontline experts in education take control of curricular content and instruction. To the extent that such a process also allows for the participation of non-Christian religious institutions like the Ghana Muslim Council (GMC), the significance of such a proposal cannot be understimated. For while, indeed, Christians constitute the overwhelming majority of Ghanaian citizenry, nevertheless, Muslims and other non-Christian Ghanaians are a recognizable, if not a formidable, presence.
Another area of our national life that ought to be equally respected and taken into account regards citizens who do not belong to any of the so-called Great Religions, namely, Christianity, Judaism and Islam. And by the latter, of course, I am referring to the so-called Animists or practitioners of Traditional African Religions. And then, of course, there is also that gray theological and/or ideological area composed of Atheists and Non-Denominational Deists and those too protean in ideological suasion to be readily categorized.
In other words, what I am driving at is the fact that as a modern democracy, Ghana is also secular politically, which means that the central government is mandated to cater to the intellectual and cultural needs of those of its citizens who fall outside the purview of the Great Religions. This is not, in anyway, whatsoever, to suggest that since time immemorial non-Christian Ghanaian citizens have not taken full advatage of Christian-sponsored and administered education in the country. At any rate, I am also thinking about such Eastern religions as Hinduism, Buddhism and Shintoism, among a plethora of others.
Which, in essence, simply means that the government has a bounden obligation to maintain a remarkable presence in the field of education, so as to protect the interests and integrity of the ideological and non-religious minority. In Ghana, traditionally, it has been the Local Councils or Local Authorities that have played this vital role of religious and academic neutrality. Of course, those of us who had the privilege to also attend local authority-sponsored schools can credibly testify to the fact of these theoretically non-denominational schools having been heavily influenced by Christianity. And the obvious reason was because most professionally trained Ghanaian educators are also Christian-trained and oriented.
What we really need are institutions founded and operated on ecumenical communalism, modelled after our tertiary academies, where a multiplicity of ideas, talents and skills are democratically allowed to bloom with the minimum of salutary and constructive limitations. In this kind of cultural milieu, emphasis is placed on shared values and the proverbial Protestant Ethic(s) of hardwork, discipline, altruism, frugality and sacrifice. In our day, age and time, it is altruism and sacrifice that may be envisaged to be sorely lacking and in dire need of reinfusion into our body politic.