Two articles from the May 13 edition of The Mirror saddened me because both are indicators that education is not impacting critical literacy and emotional intelligence among some populace.
The first article was about cocoa getting to Ghana. Tetteh Quarshie’s initiative does not constitute a mere narrative in Ghanaian history; it is a cherished, sacred legacy. Appropriately, the late E. K. Nyame composed a track in Mr Quarshie’s honour, praising him for patriotism and good motives.
In the seventies, we were taught that he hid the pods among his things when leaving Fernando Po. The plants that survived commenced the rich cocoa story of Ghana. How on earth did the garbage emerge that he swallowed cocoa beans and retrieved them upon easing himself on the shores of ??? One can easily spot the source; the narrator(s) are acquainted with the machinations of current drug traffickers whose flights take a few hours. Such can, apparently, ingest drugs and retrieve such at their destinations, upon visiting nature.
Apparently, someone has sought to blindly copy the narrative without paying attention to illogical details. As some pragmatic residents of Akuapem Mampong have questioned, did Mr Quarshie not attend to the call of nature for the six weeks he was at sea? That question alone renders the current narrative ridiculous. Per the original story, did Mr Tetteh Quarshie swallow six pods of cocoa?
The false narrative is obtuse indeed, but the real wonder is how it got ensconced in textbooks. There are many charlatan writers who propagate ignorance but publishers are expected to be meticulous. Who are the uninformed editors of the text? Did so-called textbooks pass through the hands of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NaCCA)? Do participating bookshops realise that they are spreading pathetic lies, desecrating the financial and cultural narratives of Ghana?
This ridiculous twist is not about Akuapem Mampong; it is about Ghana. The source must be traced and banned from writing; s/he must compensate the Republic for diluting its history. The publishers, as well as the disseminating bookshops, must be fined for endorsing a lie.
Actually, if all the agents named above were critical readers who knew their country’s history, the falsehood could have been snuffed when the ignorant author penned it. The Director of Ghana Education Service (GES) should consider this, a matter of urgency, and have shelves cleared of the garbage. NaCCA must also edit existing books to correct Tetteh Quarshie’s narrative. I fully support the demand from Akuapem Mampomg to rewrite the story and so should other educational stakeholders.
My second story came from the columnist Gyan-Apenteng who has called Ghana to shame for failing to support struggling single mothers and their children. The article was balanced in advocating responsible childbirth and financial support for a cross-section of single mothers. The laudable appeal should become a regular national dialogue. However, one of the points he made regarding irresponsible childbirth ought to be reiterated.
Death and divorce render single motherhood inevitable; however, many females negotiate their single motherhood status. There is a disturbing deep-seated mentality among a cross-section of Ghanaian females that they can lure men through children. Therefore, they strike up wishful, promiscuous relationships with men but are shunned by partners during pregnancy, practically deserted when they bring forth.
The culture is deeply entrenched among women below the poverty line. They consider childbirth as cool and mock pragmatic ones who aspire for financial autonomy. In some coastal areas, 15-year-olds who have not given birth are taunted as barren by peers. Sadly, many such focused females succumb to peer pressure.
Lately, it appears an epidemic of promiscuity has hit primary schools in Ghana. The unacceptable number of school dropouts due to pregnancy and pregnant candidates in the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) indicates the gravity of the problem. Most come from the poorest of homes and cannot even afford antenatal care. In many cases, their partners are their junior high school (JHS) mates from equally poor homes.
Education has helped many across the world to plan and have children they can adequately cater for. Not only have such people made life bearable for themselves but their populations have not ballooned, so limited resources are shared relatively equitably. The needy receive state support.
That education has not trickled to Ghana, where many slight family planning under the mentality that God caters for people. Yet, the same people distribute their numerous children among family members or well-to-do strangers, subjecting such children to unimaginable suffering. Children do not beg to be born so spare them avoidable misery, reproduce responsibly!
Childbirth is a heavy responsibility before God and society so people should venture into it prudently. Parents are responsible for children – at least, a 20-year responsibility. We need a national dialogue on responsible childbirth. That might help.
The writer is a Sr Lecturer, Language and Communication Skills, Takoradi Technical University, Takoradi.