“The true purpose of Education is to make minds, not careers” – William Deresiewicz
We live in a world where knowledge is important to growth, ingenuity and creativity. We live in a world where you have to constantly learn, unlearn and relearn. We live in a fast-paced world, where technologies change rapidly and evolve. We also live in a world where people are constantly creating and re-creating. Bottom line is, we live in a world where Knowledge is power and there’s power in Knowledge.
I read through Williams’ quote countless times and I couldn’t help but think of the piss poor education students (in Ghana and most African Countries) are made to go through. Having gone through tertiary education in Ghana, Yes, I can categorically speak on this.
It’s extremely sad that in 2017, Students in Ghana are still in a “Chew & Pour” system of learning. Students aren’t empowered to self-develop and actually learn the skills for themselves, but instead, they’re made to “Study & Pass exams”. While that is indeed important, it’s a slow self-destructive process that looks bright upon graduation, but eventually bleak’s their future’s.
We live in a Ghana where students are getting into the job market, totally blank on what’s ahead of them. This is also a Ghana where skills are no longer important for you to get a job, but importance is rather placed on who you know. Wealth is now a product of generational transfer and big government contracts and not on entrepreneurial drive and hustle.
In summary, the place of Skill, Capacity and Ability in securing yourself a future has almost been lost.
How does this affect the Ghanaian Tech Ecosystem?
…because that is why we are here.
Technology is extremely dynamic. It’s never predictable, and to be a major player in that league, you have to be flexible. Flexible in your ability to learn and produce results. With my major being information technology, I see first hand how ignorant most lecturers in tertiary institutions are, to the fact that technology is the world’s big thing and how that same ignorance is depriving their students of being the best versions of themselves.
A department where practical courses that involve coding, hands-on networking skills, securing data/networks and databasing are being taught vocally. It’s also sad how some lecturers see it as their job to just come to lectures (Sometimes late, sometimes never), narrate exact wordings from course readings/textbooks, set repeated exam questions and the next semester, they do it all over again!
This is indeed sad! To think that in saner climes, kids of 14/15 are building apps, gadgets and determining some of the technologies the big OEM’s enact. Only in Saner Climes!!
A few of Ghana’s big tech exports who were lucky enough to escape this sad reality usually had a lot of self-development going for them. They were somehow able to “Chew and Pour” for degree sake and also hone their skills, for the sake of their future. They’ve carved a niche for themselves in the industry not necessarily because they were exceptional in studies, but their drive, skill and crave for knowledge, led them to where they are.
Ghana’s tech community is at a crucial and delicate stage. There’s so much optimism and hope at the prospects some of the players in the community are showing. Startups are springing up and there’s an audible call for a technology-supported government and administration. There’s a lot of skilled hands needed to scale Ghana’s tech industry to the next level. Africa’s next Steve Jobs can come from Ghana? I mean, why not? It all starts with the skills – it all starts with how they’re applying themselves.
If students continually think that all that’s required of them and all there is to university education is Chewing parts of a textbook or past questions and pouring it all out in the exams, they’d put in no effort in actually learning the skills that would shape their future.
The Way Forward
To some extent, this mediocrity isn’t really any fault of the lecturers. We know how inadequately funded institutions are and how politics has found its way into the management of universities. But still, they knowingly choose to go along on this path of mediocre education – and for that, they deserve a large chunk of the blame.
What ever happened to the role of papers and research in uni? What ever happened to lecturers actually explaining or elaborating on a certain topic rather than reading verbatim from textbooks? What happened to actually testing the skills of your students rather than asking them to “Define Computer Science”?
Ghanaian lecturers need to do better by their students. Ghana’s educational system needs to do better by the parents that pay these fees. Even though fees for Ghanaians range between $400 – $500, students still deserve the very best that amount of money can afford. The international students who pay between $4000 – $5000 in fees are worse off. Simply put, the system is ineffectual – more needs to be done.
There’s also a strong role that training schools have to play. Institutions such as IPMC, APTECH need to do their very best in ensuring that, the student product’s of tech in Ghana are standard! They need to rid the tech community of this scourge if the government and lecturers won’t.
We care for the future of Africa & African tech, and it all starts with the education!!