Reforming University Education: Some Thoughts Association of Ghana

The recent series of examination leakages in our universities has added to the concerns about the efficacy of our educational system and the caliber of the human resources being produced by the universities. May be the leakages reflect the level of corruption and indiscipline in our society.

 

(Notice that the leakages have occurred way down to the lower levels of the educational system.) I used to think that it was freedom when one could do anything in Ghana but now I have painfully changed my mind to accept that we have become slaves to indiscipline. As an educationist who has taught in different countries, I am very worried about the long term damage these leakages are going to cause Ghana .

Anywhere you go with your certificate people will begin to wonder whether your A was earned or bought! And anytime you apply for a position and you are not taken, you begin to wonder if they thought you did not take the exam but was given an A, although you know you earned it.

 

I have written before in the Daily Graphic how these leakages can be minimized, if not stopped altogether. Let the lecturer responsible for a paper type it, print it, photocopy it, and send it to the examination room on the examination day. If there are too many students for the lecturer to conduct an effective invigilation, then assistants can be hired for the invigilation.

 

The lecturer stays during the entire period of the examination and collects the written scripts at the end of the examination. So, if there is a leakage, the source of the leakage is known. It may sound too simplistic a solution, but it can be done because I do it all the time.

 

However, certain incentives need to be provided the lecturer to make it work. For example, the lecturer must have access to a personal computer, printer, and a centralized copier. Where there is a large number of students, there must be an agreed number of students that constitutes official workload and anything extra must be paid for as extra work. Anything else will just be excuses that become part of the problem.

 

We should stop pretending and face the issues head-on, if we are honest about solving the leakage problems. In any case, the universities must convince everybody that they find leakages reprehensible by punishing appropriately those caught collaborating and by putting in place measures that will prevent such occurrences.

 

I am also worried about the caliber of graduates the universities are mass producing. It is NOT all bad materials out there, but there is cause for grave concern for many who speak bad English, have poor mathematical skills, have poor communication skills, and have bad attitudes to work and the environment.

Are we really educating our children? We teach our children to memorize and reproduce verbatim teachers' notes with all the punctuations, but that is plagiarism in education and it is not acceptable. It looks to me that instead of providing opportunities for our children to study and become educated, we are only preparing them to pass examinations that are leaking in the first place. So, you can't tell from the examination results who a good student really is!

 

Will diversifying admission requirements help reduce craving for marks at whatever cost? What of de-emphasizing the rigid entry requirements that focus mainly on examination results by expanding the scope to include community service, communication skills, analytical thinking, care of the environment, and interviews? Shouldn't the universities be focusing more on exit competence rather on entry requirements ?

 

As part of the solution to the problem of the weak caliber of graduates, may I suggest that universities admit students to the universities, but not to programs or courses! That is, having been assessed capable of studying at the university level using the expanded scope of sources suggested above (by all means not exhaustive), a student gets admission to the University of Ghana, Legon, for example, but not to the business administration program in Legon.

 

While in the first year, all students study the following six core courses: Mathematics, English, French, Environmental Science/Civic Education, Entrepreneurship, and Information Communication and Processing Technology (ICPT). I leave the justification of these core courses as home work for readers.

 

These six courses should run concurrently for the whole of first year in all universities in Ghana , with the usual First University Examinations (FUE) in place, restructured of course to comprise the expanded scope of sources referred to earlier. Then in the second year, students can be aligned towards general programs, like science, arts, business, agriculture.

 

These are only some thoughts I am sharing with the reading public. They might sound crazy to some people, but remember that it took crazy people pursuing crazy ideas to make airplanes fly but not fall, ships to sail but not sink, economies to grow but not shrink, educational systems to produce creative thinkers and innovators that impact positively on their environment but not those who destroy the environment with the hope of reducing poverty without realizing that their very action will plunge them into perpetual poverty.

-Dr. Sitsofe Anku
 

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