In recent times, the academic performance of most students in Ghana after final examinations has been a cause to worry about. This problem arises due to various factors which have been put across board but are yet to be tackled. Different people have shared varied ideas concerning the above topic and I stand to share my own opinion on the situation at hand. The field of education and the academia bring along multiple hands on board such as teachers, government, parents and the students. My focus however will center on how well the teachers and government can play their roles effectively to reduce this social canker.
In view of this, my first problem will base on poor teacher-student relationship. Most teachers in Ghana I must say are authoritative. They always want to put their instructions and views across while mostly denying students the platform to share their ideas as well. This causes students to fear them and sometimes lose concentration in their class. For some reasons, students term such teachers as “unfriendly” and decide not to join their class or pay attention to whatever they teach. I must say that, this behavior of some teachers puts off students’ zeal for learning and in the end reflects in their performance. Teachers must therefore learn to create a friendly atmosphere in their classroom where students can freely ask questions and contribute the quota to whatever lesson they are receiving. They should also make friends with students in order for them to openly tell their problems and the teachers’ shortfalls during class hours. In so doing, we are sure to boost students’ performance by a higher percentage.
Again, most students have a poor command over the English language. One reason to this is that, there are not sufficient English language textbooks and teachers in schools. Most qualified teachers shy away from the subject due to reasons best known to themselves or for fear of misguiding the students. The supply of government English grammar and reading textbooks too are not enough. This is why you will see two or more students sharing one textbook and they begin to play instead of following the lesson. At the end of the lesson, the student is unable to read properly not to think of answering a simple comprehension question correctly. This aspect of concern is more worrying because, most subjects in schools today are based on reading and understanding to able to give meaningful answers to questions. In this bid, where there is poor command over the language could be suicidal to students’ performance. Among the reasons to poor command over the white man’s language is also the problem of speaking vernacular in school. Most teachers speak the local language to students who in turn reply them in the same manner. This too can affect students’ performance since speaking the English language can make room for corrections and new words. In all, teachers must muster courage to teach the language since that will make room for them to learn as well. Government must do well to supply enough (English language) textbooks to help our future leaders have command over the language. The school should also be good English speaking grounds for teachers and their students for effective communication and learning process.
Additionally, lack of basic facilities in schools and communities is another problem. Most public and private schools these days lack facilities that will challenge the minds of their students. How many schools have well stocked libraries, laboratories, theaters, studios, just to mention a few? Yet, it is obvious that these facilities help to ensure sound and happy learning experiences among students. Where these facilities are lacking, students are dull and cannot have healthy competition with fellow endowed schools. This also makes learning theoretical and boring for students. However, a more practical atmosphere will enable students to gain retentive memory on the lesson quicker than a theory-based class. The libraries in the communities too are either stocked with archaic books or not functioning at all. Youth clubs these days seem old fashioned in most communities while recreational facilities such as zoos, botanical gardens and national parks seem a thing of the past. We lack all these things as a nation and yet we strive to attain the same level of development as some smarter countries who know the essence of these facilities. We end up bringing up inexperienced students into job markets and when they fail, we try to apportion blames. Ghana must wake up from the slumber and tackle the problem of insufficient learning and recreational facilities in communities and schools, if it will thrive and produce whiz kids and gurus for itself.
Also, there is the problem of lack of motivation. Students in most schools are no more given the motivation to want to learn. Awards and scholarships that motivated brilliant students have been withdrawn in most schools. What has however been implemented is caning. Where both brilliant and dull students who fail to perform are whipped and punished instead of at least being told their mistakes and corrected. This behavior has rendered most students relaxed and complacent. It also generates low competition in the classroom and during examinations. Teachers do not motivate their students through little rewards or encouraging words, schools refuse to hold award ceremonies for their wards, while government will not provide job avenues for graduates. These entirely sum up to making students less motivated and in the end, performing less at examinations or on the job market. Brilliant but needy students can be helped and motivated with scholarships and funds to enable them soar higher in their academic pursuits. Also, schools should frown from not organizing speech and prize giving ceremonies where deserving students can be awarded and put on the urge of doing more. Government should also organize workshops and seminars where students can be inspired and talked to on effective ways of becoming successful in their various areas of interests. Quizzes and award winning competitions such as “British Council’s The Challenge” and “(the almighty) Science and Mathematics Quiz”, should also be put on the rise to enhance healthy competition among various schools and students.
Finally, retrogressive practises are another problem. For instance, teachers still hold on to old methods of teaching such as what I call the “lecture process”. By this I mean that, most teachers are interested in coming to class and talking till the end of the period without imparting anything meaningful especially to students of basic and second cycle institutions. What these teachers must know is that students at that level need references to whatever they are taught. Students must however be given notes and textbooks where they can refer to and make private studies on their own. Also teachers do not give room for students to research but go along and “spoon feed” their students. When this happens, the learning process becomes incomplete and students are found wanting when they face questions. Students who are allowed to do their own research are given the chance to learn new things on their own which makes answering questions easier. Also as a country, we must learn to adjust to the technological advancement in our new world. The time where notes are written and compiled and teachers write with pens on board everyday is fast changing. We should cultivate the use of appliances such as laptops, tablets, projects and computers in our system of education. For instance notes can be put on a pen drive for all students to copy onto their computers. Also, some assignments can be typed for teachers to enhance typing skills in students. All these will help put us on the global market and enhance the academic performance of students; it will also help save time and make teaching and learning easy and fun for both teachers and their students.
I hope these few concerns and solutions of mine will reach safe hands and will be adhered to so that Ghana can be a better place for students and academic excellence. Then, we can shy away from having to travel to foreign lands for better education. A journey of a thousand miles as is always said begins with one step.