KB Asante: Voice From Afar column
What is the emphasis on learning by our political parties?
Our political parties appreciate the value of formal education. Many promise more schools and colleges in a country and make them accessible by reducing or slashing fees and providing amenities at little or no cost.
Education facilities have been expanded enormously and there are more universities today than there were secondary schools in my time. And yet, many shrewd observers are not happy with the state of learning in the country. Some university graduates find it difficult to write a paragraph, and that thinking which expresses true learning is not common. Why is this so?
A friend of mine, Michael Gbordoe, a research scientist in Germany, has on every visit to Ghana bemoaned the environment as an impediment to learning. Noise, he claims, and I agree with him, promotes many health hazards. Noise deprives many of adequate sleep which, he quotes, “Experts maintain is as vital for life as food and water.”
My bias on education as a prime mover of development directed my attention to an account of a study by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). In global school rankings based on test scores in Mathematics and Science, Ghana was at the bottom. Singapore headed the table followed by Hong Kong and African countries, led by Ghana, which carried them all. Surely this is serious. Education in Ghana not long ago did not show such bad results. It was highly regarded and certificates from Ghana were readily accepted.
We have to visit aspects of the areas of education which may have impact on the learning of our youth. Housing comes immediately to mind. Do our youth go to houses or areas they can retire to and learn? And are there books and other learning facilities available?
Housing is part of the environment which can impact very negatively on the young. Some dwelling places are so noisy that adequate sleep is impossible. Recent studies have led to the labelling of sleep as the third pillar of good health along with diet and exercise. According to Matt Walker at the University of California, “There is no tissue within the body and no process within the brain that is not enhanced by sleep, or demonstrably impaired when you don’t get enough”.
Michael lives near the Nungua Police barrier and finds it strange that it is a hot spot for noise even with so many schools and residential areas around. The area around La “Palm Wine Junction” and the Wireless area is no better. I agree with him that the cost of noise and sleep deprivation on the health of Ghanaians is tremendous even if those in positions of authority do not seem to be aware!
It appears our politicians do not care to know about the great environmental hazards which confront the people at election time. They are issues which do not readily make the news and tackling them may cause problems. In fact, some citizens go so far as to claim that if the party insists that environmental laws should be respected and enforced, they the people will not vote for the party. And it appears that some parties are so without guts that they ask their supporters to avoid such issues in their campaigning.
I do hope that at least, a few Ghanaians will show the door to parties whose only aim is to win the election to keep the country dirty and noise-ridden while they make their ill-gotten wealth. Political parties which have the interests of the nation at heart should not only be interested in building schools to obtain votes but more importantly, promote that learning which induces thinking and progress. They should assist nature’s processes to keep the tissues of the brain enhanced by sleep, which should be the right of every citizen.