The Good Men are Dead
I am not sure the choice of this title but this is how I feel about my country Ghana.
The Good Men are all Dead!
Its about 100 days to elections – Ghana lost its sitting President Pof. J.E. A Mills in July. As a nation we lost over one Billion GHS when for 2-3weeks the whole government machinery grinned to a halt. As typical of Ghanaian funerals, there was a lot of running around and meetings with families of the President. The paternal and material families both wanted some recognition. Within the ruling NDC party, there were lots of jostling to fill the position of the Vice President as the sitting Vice President gets “promoted” to President as per the Constitution of the 4th Republic.
During the mourning period, there was many rumours about how the President died. Some rights groups including the Ghana Bar Association and the Ghana Medical Association have called for an autopsy to determine the cause of the Presidents death. Of course the people of Ghana have been denied the opportunity. Before the President won the elections in 2008, there were rumours that he had huge health problems that will not see him through the 4-year term. His office, campaign team and the whole party machinery refused this.
Indeed, a few weeks before his death, President Mills was hastily flown out of the country to the United States for a “check-up” and on his return, the party spin doctors made him jog on the tarmac to prove that he was well and alive. Indeed there was a mini-rally at the airport on his arrival.
Then suddenly he died on 24th of July barely a week later the President passed away.
SO where are the good men? Was Mills a good man? I am not here to judge him. Like all politicians, he played on the emotions of people that trusted me; and refused to be his own man. He died pleasing a few people when he knew his health was not well.
Perhaps more important is what legacy he may have left behind.
I am not sure what I can credit to Prof. Mills when I comes to policies (I do not count roads and school buildings as political achievements – the people of Ghana can only expect those basics from their governments as long as they the people pay taxes). So back to policies – “One-time Health Insurance Policy” – the late President promised to make Ghanaians pay a one time health insurance premium; 3years into his office, this policy has deluded the people of Ghana. Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS) – a policy bequeathed to the ruling NDC party by the New Patriotic Party (NPP). The SSSS was a plan by the then ruling to hold on to power as they hoped that by implementing the SSSS they will have for themselves more votes considering that the key beneficiaries will of people on government salary – civil servants, Police, Nurses, Doctors, Forces (Fire, Customs, Police, Army), etc. However, the country was too poor to implement this SSSS when the NDC took office. The key beneficiaries of the SSSS so far have been the Police, Soldiers and other key government employees. What this means is that the people most likely to create problems have been bought off and does not really reflect a fair distribution of income,neither was there a scientific reasoning behind who gets what apart from the politics of buy votes – lets face it; soldiers and police will always vote for the government that pays them well. I am told that people who have served in the army for up to 6years in 2008 were earning 200GHs a month (the current equivalent of $103) are from 2009/2010 earning 1,200-1,500GHS (around $620-$770). So the SSSS is partially being implemented.
Free school uniform policy…well, for starters some of the uniforms are 3-times the size of most students as the picture below shows.
Now, I scratch my head for more – oh, yes we had passing of the National Youth Policy and the eventual transformation of the National Youth Council into “National Youth Authority”. A name change with no substance. The acting coordinator of the National Youth Authority (NYA) is busy canvassing for votes than working with and for youth.
The policy itself was rushed and launched in August 2010 without any monitoring and evaluation tools, no budgets, no coordination, mainstreaming and implementation plan. Till date there is no budget to tell the people of Ghana how much it will cost and over how many years to implement key milestones in the policy. When activists first raised the matter, they was promised 2-weeks. It is 2 years now! Yet the man that launched it and made that promise wants to be elected and currently campaigning as “Pro Youth”.
Indeed, Good Men are Dead.
During the last 6months, many government officials – minsters (without parliamentary seats), deputy ministers, upper and middle level civil servants have left their jobs and canvassing votes against the constitution of this great country. Many of the culprits are the ruling NDC party.
The opposition has lost its voice to criticise this because in the last elections they condoned same breach of the constitution. Civil Society have become tired and will not speak. The clergy have been silenced as any one protesting this breach is quickly labeled as an opposition supported and given a public “dressing”.
Good Men are Dead
The rich, clean and powerful men have refused to talk…their businesses will die if they dare speak against the government/party. These same rich good men will not contest elections – for them its a dirty business and a waste of money.
Good Men are Dead
In the last 5weeks the greatest political debate has been free high school education. There have been one lone voice speaking for this policy – the leader of the main opposition New Patriotic Party. Contributions to this debate is in 3 categories – the NPP saying that free high school education is what willl fix the country at a cost of 0.01% of GDP (I may be wrong here); the second category is the Progressive People’s Party (PPP) saying originally the free high school education was their idea and that if students that qualify to be on the programme are not in school, their parents will be arrested and fined (I wonder how that is going to be done with no proper ID system, no house numbers and post codes, etc) and finally the ruling government saying its rubbish and yet not providing an alternative.
Good Men are Dead
All 3 categories of arguments know that the problem is not free education – it is the lack of a proper youth development policy that is grounded in an educational philosophy that encouraged personal development. Currently Ghana’s educational system is planned around rote learning. There is no innovation from teachers in teaching their courses; neither are students encouraged to be creative. Indeed, creative students are punished, they earn less marks than their rote learning fellows. But what does one expect when you haev a class of 70 students? You want tests that are easy to mark…multi-choice questions!
Even at final year undergraduate quizes and exams, as much as 60% of the grades are made up muti-choice questions. Our teachers still set questions like: “why is Ghana a primary goods producer?” or questions that one does not have to think. Students are not forced to think beyond their classroom.
In many high schools, their is no room for extra curricular activities that the school does not directly benefit from. There are no scholarships or awards in 98% of schools [forget the PTA motivated best student awards that does not count].
Good Men are Dead
In many state universities, internally generated funds (IGF) are shared among the lectures. There is no investment. In one university, if departments want monies released and on time, they have to put the Vice Chancellor on a beneficiary of whatever the money is meant for. The VC gets a kick-back to append signatures. People earn sitting allowances for meetings with the university. There is no accountability of any sort. Lecturers are more interested in attending meetings than researching and impacting knowledge.
The educational problem we have is not about free education policy is it about attitudes, systems, and processes. It is about creating a link between what is thought in the classroom and outside the classroom. Accepting that there is a difference between the two and developing programmes that bridges the two.
How about science shows? Debate and public speaking programmes; Business and idea creation competitions? How about internships?
Good Men are Dead
In the last few months, I have witnessed colleagues in my class offered internship programmes at their countrys’ foreign ministry to write their thesis on specific policy issues. At 23-25years, they are being groomed for the world. That is education.
We need a holistic forward thinking, 20-30year plans about the key beneficiaries of education – the youth! Yet we have a Youth Authority that is under-resourced because we appoint people that are happy with the title and the opportunities that come with it and not the work that needs doing. They are happy with the small perks and busy stuffing their mouths so that their voices are not heard about their main work. When they speak its unintelligent and muffled because their mouths are stuffed!
Good Men are Dead:
Ghana is full of Living Bad Men who will rape, lie, cheat, insult and cow their constituents into submission. But I prophesy that a time comes soon when the Good Men shall say: Enough!
Yes, Enough is Enough!