It is very interesting to note the measures the New Patriotic Party (NPP) adopts in dealing with unemployment in this country. When they had power in 2001, they promised providing jobs for all who were able and willing to work.
In the end, what they succeeded in doing was to extend the duration at the Senior High School to four (4) years from three (3) years. Strategically, what the government of John Agyekum Kufour did was to delay the number of years students are churned out from the senior high schools and eventually the Universities as their stay in school was prolonged giving government some breathing space.
In a particular year, government would not churn graduates into the system, hence by a strategic design, claiming to have reduced the rate of unemployment if it chooses to take data at that material moment.
Today, a similar strategy is being proposed by a section. The New Patriotic Party is back in power and discussions are emerging for a-five-year duration for Senior High Schools to be adopted. This is another move to cause a massive delay in the number of years graduates would take to join the job market, an artificial way of dealing with the menace of unemployment.
Citizens would be hoodwinked into believing that government had done something significant to reduce the rate of unemployment, without the realisation that a conscious effort was effected to ensure that the yearly average was truncated.
What is opened to the government would be an opportunity to smartly take census of the rate of unemployment linking it to the number of students released in that given year, hence, scoring high points for having reduced the growing rate of unemployment.
It is interesting to note that instead of tackling the issues head-on, the government has resorted to rhetorics in dealing with a menace they hinged on to win political power.
These short, but unproductive efforts, coupled with a weak idea in dealing with this rather important phenomenon is to say the least, the crux of irresponsibility on the part of a government that has lost hope in itself in tackling a huge challenge facing a nation which will eventually compound the problem and make it a monstrous phenomenon that would rear its head when the government of the day is out of power.
The strategy is this, increase the students’ stay in the classroom, artificially decrease the number of students who pour out every year to seek for jobs, take a record of the graduate-to-job ratio at that particular moment, government would have scored high marks, and then pass the baggage to a subsequent government which would have a huge task of dealing with massive unemployment.
For the politics that our education is being used for, it would be appropriate for the political authority to note that education is about the future of our children. That process must not and cannot be played at the whims and desires of the government of the day.
A national debate must be organised with its attendant concensus and then, we would have reached a decision on what we as a nation want to be our focus on education in relation to duration.
It remain a fact that the number of years a student spend in school does not determine the eventual performance. In the
past, when the duration was three (3) years, some students made attempts in their second year and proceeded to the universities and colleges. That proves that with the right teaching and learning environment, duration would be insignificant in the performance of students at the Senior High School level.
In the meantime, government must focus on building the necessary capacity of the various institutions and bridge the gap between the so called first class, second class and third class schools. Every student has the right to education, and that must be the preoccupation of government to make that right accessible to all.
Reports of committees constituted by governments on different occasions came out with recommendations that refused an extention of duration but rather with emphasis on facilities and the need for government to improve upon facilities across the various schools and especially the deprived ones.
It is important that government take steps to ascertain the need of the people of this country rather than imposing durations that would rather become a burden on parents of these school children no matter which angle one looks at it from.
In any case, what is the component? Would students become easily and readily employable immediately they are done with the five-year duration? Would government be in a position to offer existing jobs to such school children?
The educational structure and the needs after our emergence from colonial rule is not the same today. Efforts by Ghana’s first president, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah which were tailored at making jobs available for every student no matter the level completed, cannot be the case for today. Today, unlike was the case, we have graduates walking the streets seeking for non-existing jobs and who are ready to launch their careers with jobs that are far below their levels of education.
This phenomenon does not guarantee any positive result under the new promise, and this must be looked at immediately and a lasting solution of providing appropriate education with its attendant jobs in the system, to tackle the issues of unemployment head-on.
Anything short of this would be seeking a temporary solution to a long-term problem that would backfire with serious ramifications. Government must take immediate steps to deal with this issue with great tact and assurance, nothing more, nothing less!