Basic education curriculum and textbooks: Facts or fiction in Ghana

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What is the purpose of education in Ghana today? What is the vision for education in Ghana today? Who articulates that vision for all? How is the vision captured in our basic school curriculum? Do we value respect? Do we value a democratic system of governance where we all participate in the election of our representatives?

Do we value the rule of law? Do we value our national history? Do we pay homage to our past leaders? Do we value individual distinctiveness? Do we value our natural environments? Do we value life? Do we value safety? If we do, which I strongly will argue we do then how do we translate these into our curricula at the basic school level?

The purpose of education in every society is to codify the ideals and aspirations of a people into learning disciplines. Thus, you will often hear that education is a means of socialization. By socialization is meant to indoctrinate the citizens to appreciate the economic, cultural, political structures that the system cherishes and wishes to bequest to posterity. For example, Ghanaian education should capture our aspirations and make us first and foremost Ghanaians. When you visit a foreign system of education or if you school in a foreign country you experience what that system cherishes most.

In many cases, there are universalities and peculiarities.
In simple terms, education is that enterprise that captures and transmits what the society considers to be knowledge for its citizens regardless of their backgrounds with respect to ethnicity, religiosity, and geographical location or origin (the curriculum). This explains why education has been a tool for effectively helping people move up the economic and social ladder in society.

Ghanaians do not have any excuse any longer for blaming others for their educational problems. If the textbooks are failing young children, then we must endeavor to rewrite those textbooks. If a textbook fails to adequately portray a segment of our political or cultural history, we must edit or remove that book from circulation immediately.

Education is thus a means of mobility. For example, it is through the acquisition of knowledge that the child from a village can become the head of the most successful school system, business, organization, or the country as the head of state. It is through the educational system that the child born without drinking water in his home, electricity, or toilet facility in his/her home, or with no parents in the home can aspire to the pinnacle of his/her career. Education therefore levels the playing field. It appears however, that today education is subjugating a good portion of the Ghanaian society. How can we change this trend?

The policy decision of free basic education has created a system where all are admitted with no child left behind with unintended consequences. A few are:
• Substandard supply of textbooks that are sourced from the Ghana Education Service/Curriculum Division without due diligence.
• Poor school systems are not challenged to improve student’s performance for there are no incentives to do so.
• Teacher concentration in urban centers compared with remote areas where their services are most needed.
• Massive failures of students in remote parts of the country for lack of educational resources.

It is here suggested that parental input in book/textbook choice be established as a matter of urgency. The old system of book selection by the Curriculum Division/ Ministry of Education should be re-examined.

Re-energize/retool the Inspectorate Division to be the watchdog for effective teacher and school performance standards. I am here not suggesting a return to the old inspection systems that pitched teachers against inspectors.

All Ghanaians expect their system of education to be effective at delivering quality education for all regardless of economic, or social status. Do our basic education textbooks written by Ghanaians do a good job of presenting facts from fiction? You be the judge.

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