Feature - Education Values

"Where are our cultural and traditional values? I wish I will go to my grandfathers early before this generation turns society into something I will not like my eyes to behold". This was the lamentation of Togbe Agbalenyomaxade (not real name), an octogenarian when he attended a wedding reception in my neighbourhood recently. Apparently the octogenarian was confused by the appearance and mannerism of the young people at the function. They were "half naked", kicked to dizzy heights by profane songs spiced with loose talks, regardless of the presence of a few elderly people. In the view of Togbe Agbalenyomaxade, Ghana is fast losing its fine cultural and traditional values, which he blamed partly on modernism, education, and the blind imitation of foreign cultures by the youth. He said though the world has become a global village, every country is distinctive by its cultural and traditional values. There were others around who nodded approvingly at the views and observations made by Togbe Agbalenyomaxade. One of them was a Director of the Ghana Education Service who taught in one of the Senior High Schools in Ho and retired at the beginning of this year. He said "life on school campuses paints a vivid picture of what we should expect in the years ahead because indiscipline has permeated every fabric of the Ghanaian society". The retired educationist said the youth had thrown civility and values to the dogs, adding that the �churches are also losing the battle against indiscipline�. He said the only way to curtail the growing indiscipline in the country is to marry formal education with the rich Ghanaian cultural values. Of course the youth may describe the two elderly men as �crazy�. But they do have a point and many well-meaning Ghanaians see that point. Ghana could be at the cross roads, one way leading to a chaotic state without values of decency, integrity, tolerance, modesty, and peacefulness and the other to orderliness, discipline, institutional effectiveness and others. The direction would be decided on the parenting and quality of education in the country. The Right Reverend Dr. Livingston Komla Buama, a former Moderator of the Evangelical Presbyterian (E.P.) Church, speaking at the launch of the 2011 Students Representative Council (SRC) week celebration of the Evangelical Presbyterian (EP) University College in Ho on the theme "delivery of quality tertiary education" addressed the issue. Rev. Buama told the students that education should not produce parrots but people of moral stature and that education is not a monologue but a dialogue through which one is informed and transformed. The learned man of God told the students that some people go to school but are not schooled and some go through school but school does not go through them. He said education is embedded in teaching to bring the potential in the person being taught in order to transform his or her life. For this reason he described teaching as a daunting task and not a casual activity. Rt. Rev. Dr. Buama�s address brings out a lot of questions. �Is our educational system producing parrots only?� �Are we producing people of stature�? �Is education bringing the needed transformation of the individual and society? �Does school go through those going to school�? �Do we go to school to be schooled or to be trained as parrots�? If you want to know the caliber of people our educational system is churning out, take a visit to offices, health and educational institutions and even some of the security services. The way some of the present crop of the educated elite talk to and handle people, even the elderly, when providing services they are trained by the tax payer�s money to render, is nothing to write home about. I was at the Out Patients Department (OPD) of one of the hospitals in Ho when an elderly woman was brought in. The filthy words that came out of a young nurse�s mouth pointed to the fact that we are throwing our values to the dogs. According to the Webster New World dictionary, discipline is a training that develops self control, character of orderliness and efficiency, strict control to enforce obedience, acceptance of or submission to authority and control. Why is our current educational training not giving the present generation the above? Our forefathers who were not lettered lived disciplined lives because they religiously followed the Ghanaian rich cultural and traditional values to the later. In the offices, some subordinates because of their qualifications, talk rudely to their bosses. A friend told me of how a national service person in his office went bananas and told his boss that she is also a graduate and not a small girl. The offence of the boss, he said, was that he reprimanded the service person for her recurrent lateness. True to the words of The Rt. Rev. Dr. Buama people now go to school to be informed and not to be transformed making it difficult for them to become men and women of moral stature. Every nation has its cultural and traditional values. Countries like Japan, China, Britain and others despite their development hold fast to their cultural values while we Ghanaians have thrown ours to the dogs in the name of modernism and education. I was told that in Japan, pre-school was used to teach children Japanese culture and values (I stand for correction.) Our values as Ghanaians are diminishing by the day as indiscipline has become the norm for the low and high in society, including the clergy and those in government. Those who crafted Religious and Moral Education (RME) into current school curricular are to be commended for thinking about values and the morality and religiosity of the Ghanaian child but is the subject bringing the desired result or is it just a subject that should be taught, learned and passed? If decency, honesty and politeness are the products of Moral Education then I humbly beg to state that the subject is not bringing the desired transformation. Some beneficiaries of the current educational system who found their way to political positions also create some air of superiority around them, and talk to people who voted them to such high positions without any respect. Instead of society condemning people who insult those in authority, we pat them at the back and come to their defence because education and modernism has taught us that they have rights. This is not to say that there are no men and women of moral stature among those passing through the current educational system but the bad nuts are more than the good ones. I vividly remember two subjects which were taught under the old educational system, Religion and Civic Education. Majority of those who went through the former educational system will attest to the fact that these two subjects really helped shape their character and transformed them and made them men and women of moral stature. When I entered the then Ho Kpodzi Middle School in 1967, discipline was so high that even the seniors were revered by the juniors. The form four classroom verandah was labeled as �Kingsway� and was a no go zone for juniors. Those were the days when a sight of a teacher created apprehension. Those were the days when anybody in the community was also permitted to discipline a naughty child and report such a child to his or her parents. But what do we see and hear today? Some students see their teachers as their equals and some of the boys allegedly go to the extent of writing love letters to the female teachers while some teachers take the girls in their schools as their �wives�. Teachers today are not allowed to discipline their pupils because they (pupils) have rights. Though government is investing so much in education, it is only facilitating the rattling of the queen�s language like parrots. The moral decadence is on the ascendency. Though a Presbyterian, I doff my hat for the Catholic Church for the wonderful work it is doing in these trying times. In fact those who attended and are attending Catholic schools will agree with me that discipline is still high in those schools. The ways we dress, talk and behave show that our cultural and traditional values are dwindling fast and is being replaced by foreign ones in the name of education and modernism the result of which is the growing indiscipline. If education is not only meant to inform but also to transform totally those who go through it, then a second look has to be taken at the transformation aspect of our education. My late grandmother told us that "afeme nunya tovo na agbale me nunya" to wit wisdom is different from knowledge. The wise King Solomon of old in Proverbs chapter eight verse 12 said wisdom dwelled together with prudence and possesses knowledge and discretion. Most of the elderly in the Ghanaian society are openly or secretly lamenting the loss of the precious values they inherited from their fathers. Are we not bequeathing posterity with anarchy? If care is not taken the indiscipline that we now accept and applaud will one day explode in the face of the country and the consequences will be grave. We urgently need an educational system that will not only inform us but also transform the individual and society and that system as suggested by the retired Director of Education should be embedded in the rich Ghanaian cultural and traditional values. If education according to Websters New World dictionary is the process of training and developing the knowledge, skill, mind, character etc, especially by formal schooling, teaching or training then it is my humble plea that we blend modernism and education with our rich cultural and traditional values so as not to inform but also develop the character of those who go through the system to minimize indiscipline in this country of ours.