The president, H.E. President Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo, indicated in his 7th update on Ghana’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic that his decision to lift the three weeks’ lockdown in the Greater Accra and Kumasi Metropolitan areas was informed by expertise advice based on scientific data regarding the dynamics of the virus in the country.
While some have impugned different motives to the President’s action, the fact that the database on which he took the decision was generated by Ghanaian scientists (the COVID19 Response Team) is very encouraging and worthy of commendation.
This is good for our nation as it shows how our experts can stand up to the challenge in finding local solutions for our problems when the need arises.
Gone were the days where we would have waited for experts elsewhere to devise solutions to address their own problems and then try to re-tune such solutions to solve ours often at very high cost.
While commending our medical experts for rising up to the occasion, the President also deserves commendation for showing leadership by trusting and urging them on.
There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic is going to be with us for some time if not forever. Experts have indicated that it is only when a vaccine is found for the disease that we can curb its spread.
The reports also indicate that clinical trials of vaccines for the disease on humans are ongoing in UK, Germany and possibly other countries.
However, the experts indicate that it will take over a year for the vaccine to be safe for general use. It was comforting to also learn from the President that Ghanaian medical experts are leading the development of a vaccine for the disease that is conducive for Africa at the Nugochi Memorial Institute.
KNUST is already in an advanced stage of producing a ventilator. Kudos to them! These are the kind of local initiatives that our country needs in this critical situation.
While the race for a search for a lasting solution to the pandemic is on, what happens to its current ramifications on our lives?
How do we get our schools running again?
How do we get people flying in and out of the country and even within the country again?
How do we get our hospitality industry working as before?
How do we get our churches and mosques opened again?
Indeed, how do we get our lives back to normal?
There is no doubt that every country is searching for solutions to these questions within their own contexts. There is the need to get local solutions to these problems. Ghana has come of age in terms of its human resource development.
We have outstanding human resource in all aspects of human endeavour that can compare with human resources everywhere. Talk of legal brains, medical experts, social scientists, development experts and what have you.
Government needs to identify and task these experts to devise the needed solutions to address these challenges. Individuals, corporate institutions, etc., also need to rise to the occasion by finding solutions to the problems.
Social media now offers opportunities for easy advertisement. So one does not necessarily need to go knocking on doors to showcase what they are worth. We can now do that easily on the social media. Of course, deprived areas still need to be supported in this regard.
There is no doubt that our educational system has produced critical human resource needs of our country. We also know that our educational system is deficient in terms of technical, vocational education and training.
Research shows that almost all educational reforms in Ghana were occasioned by the need to diversify our educational curriculum from its grammar focus.
However, implementation has always been a problem as a result of which our educational system is still largely grammar focus to the detriment of technical, vocational education and training.
It is largely the reason we produce unemployable graduates from all levels of our educational system. It is also the reason tertiary institutions are being challenged to train graduates that are suitable for industry.
It is the same reason institutions that are established to train specialists for various sectors of our country have now become multi-disciplinary institutions rather than focusing on their core mandates.
It is, therefore, necessary that we take the implementation of our current basic and teacher education reforms seriously by ensuring that the reforms achieve their objectives.
Every year, our universities turn out hundreds of brilliant graduates with first class degrees who are left to wonder about and end up enlisting in the unemployed graduates association because faculties do have the financial ability to engage and mentor them.
We need to find deliberately ways of mentoring or coaching these brilliant young ones according to their capabilities and interests in order that they could become a pool of critical human resource for devising local solutions for our development challenges.
At the Faculty of Education in UDS, we have been reorienting our students towards the problem-based teaching and learning approach.
Apart from the university-wide mandatory third trimester field practical programme (TTFPP) which affords all UDS students the opportunity to live, study and have community development experience, the Faculty of Education has an industrial internship or attachment programmes that afford students the opportunity to have practical experience of what they learn theoretically in the lecture hall.
The Department of Development Education Studies has been at the forefront of this. As an advocacy or mass education programme, students are trained as advocacy professionals (Development Educators), using Social Marketing, Development Communication and Theatre Arts skills for behavioural change through teaching and research.
As is the case with teacher education programmes everywhere, our professional teacher education programmes offer our trainees the opportunity to do school observation, on-campus and off-campus teaching practices, as well as action research.
I believe this is the way to go if we want to make education relevant to our country’s development.
We need to find home-made solutions to our problems. We cannot continue to wait for others to devise solutions for their peculiar situations only to turn around to re-tune them to try to resolve our problems.
These ways have not worked in the pass and will even be worse for our fight against the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
There is nothing wrong with learning from others experiences and adapting them to local situations. What needs to be avoided is wholesale adaptation of foreign solutions.
Let us avoid the square pegs in round holes scenario!
Ghana’s human resource has come of age and so cannot continue to rely on foreign made solutions for local problems.
There is no time Ghana ever demands our devotion than such critical moments. So, let us rise up, unite, uphold and make her great and strong!
Dr. Adams Sulemana Achanso
Dean and Senior Lecturer
Faculty of Education, UDS
Department of Development Education Studies
We Educate for Development