Let’s redefine basic education -Prof. Stephen Adei

BY: Emmanuel Bruce
Professor Emeritus Stephen Adei
Professor Emeritus Stephen Adei

Professor Emeritus Stephen Adei is a man of many parts who has over the years dedicated his life to championing the betterment of the country.

He has excelled as an economist, advisor, administrator, policy strategist, educationist, mentor, preacher, motivational speaker, consultant, philanthropist and an author.

Prof. Adei is a former Rector of the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), former chairperson of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), and a former board chair of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).

This week on the “Engine Room’’ series on Springboard, Your Virtual University, Prof. Adei took listeners on a journey into his early years, philosophy of life, writings, parenting tips and the GIMPA story.

He also recommended some radical reforms in the delivery of education, labour productivity and governance.

On education, he called for a review of the basic school curriculum, with special emphasis on redefining basic education.

He said the most important changes in education must be at the kindergarten and primary levels.

Using his four children as an example, he said they were all literate by age six and did not require his help or an extra teacher to do their homework.

He said he and the wife had therefore for the past four years been working on nine books titled ‘Papa and Nana series” which would be launched by September this year.

He said the aim of the books were to help the average Ghanaian child benefit from what their children benefited from.

“When you get children properly oriented both academically, morally and in term of nationalism at that level, you have almost made their lives easy,” he stated.

Curriculum review

Prof. Adei called for a review of the education curriculum to include mentoring and other self-development programmes.

“In this day and age, that is the way to go and that is why Ashesi is one of the best universities in Africa. It is because they have inculcated mentorship and self-development into their model.

“Life is broader than just what we study so we need to train most students to be equipped for life rather than for profession. We train people for profession without inculcating critical thinking and creativity,” he stated.


The renowned educationist pointed out that mentoring was a central pivot of his life, noting that, he had introduced institutional mentoring programmes at both Pentecost University when he was there and the Ghana Christian International High School.

“I did not sit down to draw an architecture of how I will do it but all my life, that has been the case. When I was a professor at Pentecost University, I was able to get them to introduce a system where all the students were divided into groups of 10, each with a mentor.

“And I wrote eight booklets so that every semester of the four years a student is there, they go through some sort of life experience in addition to the education,” he explained.

Why I write

On why he writes, the man who has written over 30 books and counting said what inspired him to write emanates from the discoveries he made through learning the hard way.

He said he tried to share his learnings through writing so that others would not make the same mistakes.

“My books are in two kinds, the purely professional ones and what I learnt about life, about marriage, leadership, personal finances, among others. As I struggled through life, I feel that those who know me should not also learn by doing.

“For 46 years, my finances were not in the best of shape, I saw a small book titled ‘Common Sense’, I read it and my financial situation changed. So eventually, I also wrote the book titled ’12 keys to financial success’ to also help people”.

“Most of my books are addressing life issues and trying to pass on what I have learnt the hard way,” he said.

Ten lessons from his story

1. Family focus: People are becoming too materialistic. Children don’t need expensive vacations to feel loved. I would not take any job that takes me from my family. I would rather live in a one-bedroom house with my children than live in a mansion without my family.

2. Appreciation: One of my most fulfilling experiences is when someone walks up to tell me that something I shared or wrote saved their life, marriage or finances.

3. Beginnings: Growing up, everyone walked barefooted to the local school and went to the farm afterwards. I enjoyed village life and never felt deprived till I passed for Mfantsipim, Prempeh and Aggrey Memorial and my family could not afford it. It was a humble beginning but not a difficult one because we were content with what we had.

4. Public school system: We have allowed our public schools to degenerate. The state should not have taken over the mission schools. Over the years, we’ve run them down as a result of lack of management, supervision and accountability.

5. Low productivity: The Government Statistician in a recent speech touched on something I’ve said for years. The average public sector worker earns GHc3,400 a month and produces only about GHc1,400 or (40%). That is unacceptable.

6. GIMPA turnaround: In GIMPA, I sought to introduce the discipline of the private sector into the public sector. I set a clear agenda and a vision that I held everyone accountable to.

7. Performance management: There is nothing like jobs for life. When people don’t perform in the roles they have been given, they must be assessed and fired. They can reapply if they undertake to perform.

8. Making enemies: My work sometimes attracts enemies. Luke 6:26 says, “Woe to you if everyone speaks well of you…” I however try to ensure that for everyone who doesn’t like me, there are 10 people who appreciate what I do.

9. Corporate governance: A good board is golden; but a bad board is like toothache. Successive governments must be very careful about the culture of frequently changing boards. It is wrong and disruptive for all public sector boards to be dissolved whenever governments change.

10. Partisanship: Knowledge is not party-coloured. We cannot continue this cycle where one party comes to power and for four years, almost half of the nation’s human resource is frozen out because of partisanship.