Stop Building Schools Please. Thanks.

This might sound mean…

Because almost 70% of SHS aged students do not go to SHS


We don’t need anymore people going to SHS.


You can’t possibly think that increasing the number of SHS’s in the country is going to… by pure osmosis… fix the issue of low achievement. PLUS… go to SHS and then what? To do what? Where? Education and the world of work are so intertwined… its like if Bonnie and Clyde were siamese twins. You cannot perpetuate one without also moving the other… and the economy is a clear indication that the world of work is slowly imploding on itself.

While policy reforms and interventions have improved access, a majority of pupils in primary schools fail to achieve proficiency. (source; UNICEF)

While policy reforms and interventions have improved access, a majority of pupils in primary schools fail to achieve proficiency. (source; UNICEF)


Here is a graph that basically sums up the issue. In 2000, the world agreed to increase primary school enrollment. Ghana did that… but just look at a snapshot of eight years later. There is very little shift in knowledge accumulated. All those kids in schools… doing what? The issue isn’t that we shouldn’t aspire for all kids to be in school… the issue is that we should PLAN and PREPARE for just this shift. Yes way more kids are in school… but now there are a million kids to one teacher in many urban areas and they can’t differentiate learning to the level of the student in order to effectively reach them. In rural areas, where teacher flight is rampant and attendance is limited, kids come to school alright, but not consistently. You mean, all this quantity— and no quality has been achieved in almost 15 years!?


1391520989486Sure… there may be some (short term) social benefit of building more SHS’s and having kids go— decreased teen pregnancy… less violence… better english (if this is something to be heralded.. as our local languages start to just languish in the wind, but that’s its own post. We need a language policy ASAP… but I digress), but I think that these things can be quenched in other ways while we work on the quality of our education.

Most recently, the IMF has agreed to give Ghana $156 million dollars. Over 80% of this is going to infrastructure, while 15% is going to building ICT labs in the lowest performing schools. This means schools that can hardly get consistent teachers for basic science, reading and writing… where there is sporadic electricity and limited technological literacy… these are the schools getting the best ICT equipment Ghana has to offer. This makes complete sense. I mean if logic was a policy, then this would be it. obviously.

In my mind… 80% of the money should have been used to build ICT labs in all of the schools. The 15% could have been used to increase tech literacy in the worst areas (since I imagine that alumni, local universities and NGO’s could be lobbied to handle the work of the best schools, plus there are teacher surpluses in all of the major cities, so those extra teachers could be trained and redistributed… either way, something could have been worked out). Why build ICT labs you ask, and not focus on capacity building, internal structures, etc.? Because I am no fool.

At the end of the day, the election churn requires that each cabinet leave a tangible legacy of their time in office. This means a road, a school, a hospital… something that people can point to and say ‘Mahama gave us this’. That’s what I imagine the laptops were supposed to be but that was so abysmal that I shan’t discuss them further. Since I understand the nature of politricks, I won’t even pretend to be an idealist and request that they use funds for the softer side of building quality— since you can’t take pictures with that and they don’t last for eternity. No one is going to be all ‘Yes, let’s vote in Mahama… he trained all of the teachers and developed a biometric system of monitoring their progress. He is clearly the best’. No one. So ICT labs sort of hit at quality, because minimally you can increase tech literacy, lobby NGO’s for fun e-learning opportunities and expose pupils to the world of Google. The more people know Google, I think the more people know. It’s like… scientific fact (I think… *shrugs*). So at worst, all SHS students will have actual access to computers… and these labs could even be extended to Primary schools to use once a week or whatever the arrangement might be. There is just a world of possibility when ICT infrastructure is simply made available… not so when you are just building schools. It’s literally just a building… like… boooooooooooooooooo!

So here is my point. Stop building schools. Stop wasting money. Let’s focus on working on the quality issues that are foundational. If we must borrow money, lets make sure the returns are greater than just the re-election of another liar cheater leader.


What are your thoughts on the $156 Million IMF Loan for schools? How do you think the money should have been allocated?