On Thursday, May 5, 2022, whilst topping my mobile wallet – not e-levied – a conversation ensued between the vendor and another client:
Client:(Sternly) I am withdrawing money from my account; don’t you dare tax me even one Cedi!
Vendor: Withdrawal from your account does not attract e-Levy.
Client: (Smiling) Really, no e-Levy?
Vendor: No. Transferring money to another person’s wallet attracts e-Levy, not your own withdrawal. (Vendor and I chorused): You are fighting what you do not even understand.
The exchange reminded me of two national policies that suffered ignorant antipathy: At the maiden plenary session of the 2007 Educational Review, the Director of Curriculum Review and Development Design, now NaCCA, lamented that the Religious and Moral Education subject was not impacting moral values of pupils, focus on religious issues notwithstanding.
A lengthy debate in the succeeding sessions culminated in the consensus that rather than teach/learn values in isolation under one subject, moral values should be worked into all the subjects. Social Studies would tackle religious issues.
The Director’s logic still resonates with me: Market women knock inwards the bottom of measuring tins for grains, short-changing customers.
Scales are also adjusted to cheat customers. In a pragmatic discussion of addition or percentages, teachers could explain that a tampered tin or adjusted scales do not give expected value for money – Dishonest.
All subject areas, including English Language, worked assiduously to incorporate moral and cultural values into lessons, also managing social-emotional learning. It was a strenuous effort to render education practical.
The reviewers never expected the hue and cry that greeted the first draft syllabus over the removal of Religious and Moral Education.
The most vociferous protest came from the churches. Apparently, the Review Committee and the sitting Government were antichrist to dare remove such a subject. Through all the pontification, however, I gleaned that they had not read the syllabi.
The superficial understanding about the removal of the subject, disregarding rationale and replacement effort, was numbing.
The subject was reinstated: Paradoxically, pupil morality has continued to dip to the lowest ebb. Many years later, we are harvesting increasing basic school alcohol/drug addiction, materialism, immorality culminating in teenage pregnancies, unplanned births, unnecessary curtailment of girl/child education, and a perpetuation of female dependency and poverty statuses. Could we, possibly, have done better with the original 2007 curriculum draft?
The Comprehensive Sex Education concept yielded another national hollow ruckus from the uninformed.
One Monday, I was meeting four professional groups, so I sought a learner perspective. Their only apprehension was the open discussion of sex, arguing it would arouse children’s curiosity.
I explained it was purported to open discussion on sex, sensitise children, among others, to being touched wrongly, even by parents, potentially raise assertive children to resist/reduce child molestation, and promote a responsible attitude towards sex.
I asked who had read the document. No one in four tertiary professional groups had read the document, yet they were condemning it.
The dialogue above starkly reminded me that we are treading the same aliterate route with the E-Levy. Being aliterate means one can read but feels disinclined to read. The antagonists in the instances I have cited were literates, but they were not interested in reading the texts they criticised, hence, their uninformed conclusions. Therefore, I ask all E-Levy adversaries: Have you read the document? If any antagonist, like the client above, has not read and understood taxed items, and exemptions, what is the moral grounds for heightened antagonism? Sheer antipathy to taxation – civic responsibility?
Residents who have embraced superficiality are not interested in adjustments for genuine human resource development and empowerment.
If we treaded a literate course, all radio and TV stations would devote an hour each day to explain the E-Levy through knowledgeable tax personnel throughout 2022.
Pressure groups and Ghanaian think tanks would collaborate with the NCCE and Ghana Revenue Authority/Ministry of Education/Adult Education/the Media to simultaneously design grassroots education and critique the process to straighten government.
A literate Ghana would be critically poring over the tax details for responsibilities, exemptions, potential for national economic sustenance. An analytical Ghana would be scrutinizing the digitization process GRA is utilising for fair taxation, the savvy of ICT personnel involved, the competence and integrity of communication service providers/Momo operators, the technological knowledge/infrastructure they have for competent services. We have responsibilities! My question to each stakeholder: Have you read the E-Levy document?