Time and again, discussions come up about having national values codified, to guide families, schools, and societies as they raise their children.
That is because children are socialised from home, where they are taught values. Those values vary depending on what is esteemed in each home.
Values of teachers in various schools are imparted upon the children as they start school. It is a fact that some teachers, like the ones that I had as a child, do well to complement the positive efforts of parents in some schools.
However, as standards fall, and as values are becoming relative, we should be concerned about who and how our children are being raised in schools.
There is not a single day whereby the word corruption does not come up in conversations in Ghana, because of the many scandals exposed by the media, particularly among politicians.
As Ghanaians, it seems prosecuting such issues in the court of public opinion is enough, because after a week or two of passionate discussions, everyone goes to bed, forgets about the rot and nothing changes.
Did a former President ever say that corruption is as old as Adam? And what was our response? Are we by that statement condoning it then?
Yet, we hear, every now and then, promises about rooting out corruption, dealing with corruption, setting up of offices and commissions to deal with corruption, doling out money to individuals and institutions to deal with corruption, etc.
Why are we surprised and shocked by the stealing, killing, bribery and reports of shoddy services that fill our air waves daily?
I have been worried about how the seed of corruption is being sown in the hearts and minds of our children at a very early age in some of our schools. And this issue must be addressed.
It is about the conduct of elections among children, and how vote buying is encouraged by both parents and teachers in some schools.
This growing canker where children contesting elections at primary and secondary level influence the decision of their friends cannot pass without an alarm being sounded.
Children are learning from their parents in politics and others, to buy books and other stationery, drinks, biscuits and sweets for the whole school, sometimes as part of their campaign efforts during school elections and no one sees anything wrong.
We don’t see how our children are being taught to bribe others to favour them, using material substances and freebies. We don’t allow the children to cast their votes decisively based on merit.
‘Rich’ parents gloat over the electoral success of their children after buying the votes of a whole school populace, while ‘poor’ parents look on helplessly.
Some teachers also look on unconcerned because it is ‘normal’, while others are blinded by the freebies which they are also served with on the side.
In many countries, there have been civil unrest after elections because of such electoral malpractices that go unchecked during national elections.
The national purse is looted to cater for such expectations from political aspirants, and it is a known fact that often times budgets for national projects are bloated to prepare for vote-buying in the next election by incumbent governments.
Better leaders fail to gain the opportunity to serve because the inability to afford this lifestyle becomes their archilles heels.
It is sad to see children pressuring their aspiring and hopeful leaders to bring them one gift or the other in order to gain their votes, and these children are as young as seven years of age.
The growing hunger for money and material things by our children and youth is worrying. We talk about their get-rich-quick attitude, and mourn when children kill other children for rituals. Yet we turn around and perpetuate these electoral ills in our schools without the prick of our conscience.
We are contributing to the degradation of societal values, and helping to create corrupt adults for politics, professions and society in future.
The monetisation of elections in our schools must cease and Ghana Education Service (GES) must not shirk its responsibility of having oversight of the morals being instilled in our children, if we sincerely want to see a better Ghana.
School heads and teachers must understand their all important role in nation building. Civic education must be taken seriously at all levels, and patriotism should be intentionally instilled for national good in our schools.
Parents must be proactive in confronting schools and other parents when these happen in their wards’ schools, and school heads must call such parents to order without fear or favour.
Finally, the values of honesty, integrity, hard work, compassion, dignity and decency should be codified for all schools. These are important to build the kind of adults we all desire.
That way, we can guarantee a better future for our children, and Ghana will be the winner at the end.
To quote Albert Einstein, the world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything. This kind of politics being learnt by our children in the primary and secondary schools must stop.
They continue to the tertiary institutions and later adulthood to only practise what they have learnt in their foundation years. Children are the future leaders; let’s move beyond the rhetoric.
The writer is a Child Development Expert/Child Advocate,