Patrick Awuah calls for overhaul of teacher training

Ashesi University founder argues that the problems with education in Ghana are systemic – and not limited to troublesome students

The founder and president of Ashesi University, Patrick Awuah, is advocating an overhaul of teacher training in Ghana.

His call follows recent developments in education which have led, among other incidents, to on-campus rioting over strict invigilation and tough final-year exams, leading to the dismissal of 13 senior high school WASSCE students.

“The education system itself, in terms of content that teachers are presenting to students, is not focusing enough on why ethics is important, why integrity is important,” he said. “I have had students at Ashesi tell me teachers themselves encouraged them to cheat and help them cheat in the BECE [Basic Education Certificate Examinations]. So, something is wrong in the teaching profession as well,” he said.

Institutions fixed

“We have to look at who is training the teachers in this country and how much content in there is focusing on ethics and the good society. We really need to pay attention to that,” Awuah said.

Dr Awuah was in conversation with Kwaku Sakyi-Addo for Asaase Radio’s Sunday Night flagship programme this past weekend, discussing a wide range of challenges in the education sector, COVID-19 and his own life.

Born and raised in Ghana, Awuah founded Ashesi University in Accra in 2002, moving from the United States, where he worked as a software engineer for Microsoft, to resettle back home. Today Ashesi is Ghana’s premier liberal arts college and leading private university.

Awuah likened student cheating in examinations to corruption, which could have repercussions not only on the student’s career but also the country at large.

“Every year since I have been back in Ghana we have an annual ritual of students trying to get exam questions leaked so that they can cheat. Sometimes WAEC catches them and cancels the paper and resets the questions and all of that.

“This year we’ve had students who rioted because they wanted invigilators out so they can cheat,” he said.

“Profoundly troubling”

“Obviously this is a troubling development because what it is saying is that those students almost feel like it’s their right to cheat. It is a profoundly troubling statement, coming from young people, who are expected to be idealistic,” Awuah said.

He would like there to be introspection to ensure a complete departure from the current trend in Ghana’s education sector.

“It’s like everyone needs to wake up to see that we have a problem within the educational system, and it doesn’t start at the SHS level but in the basic certificate exams – BECE, where there is a lot of cheating because this is a high-stakes exam … if you fail, your entire academic trajectory is truncated and you can’t go to the next level,” he said.

Fred Dzakpata

* Asaase Radio 99.5 – tune in or log on to broadcasts online.

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