by Ernest Armah
The Lord is my shephered, I shall not want, He makes me lie down in greener pastures, He leads beside the still waters, He restores my soul, He leads me in the path of righteousness for his name’s sake, Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, For thou art with me…
On that scriptural and poetic note, my day started. I sat on my bed gazing at nothing in particular. My thoughts were firing like a machine on all its cylinders – have ten more winks, get up and get started for the day, you have got to finalize that inception report by close of today, you’ve got to change your door, etc etc etc. I shut all of them up, got up from bed and had my bath. I got dressed and headed straight to the transport station to board ‘trotro’ (bus) to work.
I took my seat in the bus. I brought out the magazine I am yet to finish reading and started feeding my mind. I feed my mind first before my stomach. It has always been my tradition. The bus got full and we hit the road.
The information from the magazine I was reading was heart-breaking. As a person who wants to be au fair with my surroundings and the world around me, I always make sure that I am abreast with the facts.
Africa, the sub-Saharan region to be specific is experiencing a twin crisis of access to education and learning. 39 percent of under-fives suffer from moderate and severe stunting even before school starts. 24 percent of children in the region are not enrolled in primary school. 38 percent of the population has less than 4 years of education. 30 percent of Africans have less than 2 years of education.
In their learning barometer, the Center for Universal Education at Brookings and This Is Africa observed that 21.1% and 43.1% of Ghanaian pupils are not meeting the basic learning level of literacy and numeracy.
It is apparent that we are getting more children into school but the question is are they learning? Pedagogical failure is at the heart of the learning crisis in our schools. This brings to mind my science teacher at basic school. He told us prior to our writing of the BECE that if asked the meaning of metal, we should say it is “Dade” (the meaning of metal in one of the local dialects of Ghana). I can’t blame him. He was a product of the system in which he operated.
A research conducted by Jim O’Neil brought to the fore that economic growth is predicated on educational achievement. Simply put, you cannot grow your economy with a sub-standard human resource. You need sharp brains to be globally competitive and locally relevant.
In the light of this disturbing information, why wouldn’t my nerves flare up? We are wasting brains. We are truncating visions. We are killing potentials. We are building a country, and in fact breeding a continent of mediocrity and ignorance.
It has been over 20 minutes and I was still in traffic. Another bone to pick.
There are those who think that the traffic situation in the country is structural. I agree to some extent. Just hold on a moment and let me shift the lens from that to the socio-cultural and attitudinal aspect of it. Let’s face it. People buy cars in this country simply to send a message across that “me too, I have arrived”.
A private car is supposed to take at most 5 persons. Based on observations, I could postulate that in out of 10 private cars, only one would have on board 5 persons. The rest is either one or two persons. Of course, private cars in this context exclude taxi cabs. So imagine all these private cars on the road with one or two persons, what would be the result? Traffic!
Someone may say “if individuals want to buy their own car, what’s your business in it?”
My first response to such a question would be “It is none of my business”. Followed by my second response which would be “well, hold on. Breathe in, breathe out. To the point that it affects productivity, translates into low GDP making less revenue available to government and giving the government the fine pretext and silly audacity to tax me more, yes. I have got a business in it”.
However, at the end of the day, the ball goes into the court of that same government who lack balls in its governance anatomy. The Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project has been on the table of government for far too long. It is been tossed around like a ludu dice.
BRT has been successfully executed in Jakarta, Bogota and even neighboring Abuja.
Time has taught us that mere expansion of roads and creation of interchanges would not solve the vehicular traffic situation in this country. Mr Government, implement the BRT, make it effective and efficient, and see whether the public would not appreciate its dividend and get on board?
If you are wondering why I took pains to script the issues above, well firstly, I detest playing the ostrich. Secondly, I took a cue from this quote by William Hague,
“Inspiring scenes of people taking the future of their countries into their own hands will ignite greater demands for good governance and political reform…”