The loud but missing voices in #FixTheCountry discourse
In my last blog post, I shared a bit about my educational experiences growing up in rural Ghana. I have since received a lot of feedback from different people both in Ghana and abroad. My experience resonated with many people while others were simply surprised to learn of my background.
In this month’s project update, I reflect on the problem a little more and draw attention to some critical issues that should be of concern to everyone if we want to build an egalitarian and fairer society.
In a recent conversation with a comrade, one of Ghana’s respected lawyers, we both agreed that the current value systems we practice as Ghanaian people will not produce the stellar results we desire in order to excel on the global stage. Shortly after that encounter, Ghana woke up to the trending hashtag #FixTheCountry. What started as a reactive hashtag by a disappointed young man resonated so well with many Ghanaians. This compelled the government to organise a series of media briefings to update the citizenry on how they are #FixingTheCountry.
I have followed with keen interest the concerns that were raised and some of the government’s responses to the issues. The focus, in my view, centres largely on issues in urban areas with limited attention on rural and marginalised folks, who are in the majority. Their voices remain subdued in this very important conversation.
In the past, some organised protests and social media campaigns by groups and individuals have yielded results and led to required interventions. This pattern continues to disadvantage the less privileged groups in society with little or no voices. Those with subdued and absent voices must therefore be assisted to project their concerns by those who have the louder voices and the megaphones. The Fair- AI project will continue to amplify the voices of underserved children in education.
#FixingTheCountry is a good call that we must all respond to. For the stakeholders in education, it is a call to pause and take stock of what has been done in the past and see what can be done better or differently to yield improved outcomes. It is a call to teachers, parents, administrators, NGOs, and policymakers to relook at the essentials that we need to invest in education. It is a call for all manner of persons to have an honest self-introspection and see what they can contribute to improving education delivery in the country.
One way of fixing the lapses in education is in training children to ask critical questions. We cannot fix the country when adults or leaders are always right. This presupposes that adults are a repository of all knowledge and further assumes that they will always think of the wellbeing of others. This is not always so and the earlier we socialise our children away from such beliefs, the better it will be in fixing the country.
In addition, men must show respect to women in the home and society, especially in rural areas, and seek to solicit and incorporate their views in decision-making. It must be remembered that children look up to adult behaviours and mimic them whether consciously or unconsciously. Adult behaviours form part of the core value systems that children grow up with. As we continue to demand accountability from our leaders, we ought to also look within and provide equal and fair playing grounds to the missing voices, including those of women and children.
I hereby reiterate my invitation to stakeholders to find common ground solutions in addressing issues relating to education in general and EdTech in particular in Ghana. This is a call for all hands on deck to actualise the potentials that education can bring us. One important reminder is that gendered roles must be debunked to serve as examples for the younger generation. We expect parents and guardians to create fair and equal opportunities for both males and females at home. We expect local authorities and individuals in positions of authority to give equal chances to both genders. Education is the right of every child.
One may be wondering what #FixTheCountry has got to do with the Fair-AI project. EdTech is not the reserve of boys nor does it belong to the affluent. The Fair-AI in education project will continue to advocate for inclusive, fair, and equal learning opportunities as we look into the future. We are guided by our conviction that society wins if we socialise and support children in an inclusive, equal, and fair setting. The excellent results we all look for will be achievable if we collectively commit to #FixTheCountry together.