It was serendipitous that I stumbled upon your write-up while Alyson Wright, my American colleague, was with me in the office.
Upon hearing it, Aly was skeptical about its actual publication. True, it might be designed as clickbait, but its message still holds considerable weight for the public, hence this counter through the lens of an educator.
Interestingly, while you categorized music as one of your ‘useless” courses’, here was Aly, from a different cultural background, eagerly learning a Ghanaian song for her class. (See Figure 2. For the song she was in to learn):
Figure: Ghanaian music going viral in USA
While I concede that your write-up contains some elements of reality, I am firmly of the opinion that it diverts from and obscures the central issues surrounding unemployment.
The notion of a ‘useless course’ is a misnomer (There is nothing like that). Even as we acknowledge the evolving nature of certain courses, it is crucial to recognize that society itself is in a constant state of change (Dynamic).
This continuous development is precisely why there is a need for professional advancement and refresher courses, even for those already in the workforce. I am wondering which industry or profession wouldn’t shift with the current emergence of AI.
It is down to see the prevailing narrative that deems certain university degrees as ‘useless’ or valueless based on their immediate job market prospects. This is totally misleading. I wonder why we fail to recognize the deeper issues:
- The misalignment of education systems with the context of education! The perceived lack of uselessness in various academic courses is not a reflection of the fields themselves, but rather a symptom of an education system that heavily leans on a positivist, Western-centric ideology, neglecting the country’s unique cultural, social, and economic values.
Ghana has fallen into the trap of adopting an education system that mirrors those of developed Western nations, thinking that by the mere fact of adopting (not adapting) such system or curricula, it will automatically make Ghana a developed country. This approach overlooks the potential of the courses you have mentioned, Daniel Fenyi!
- The employment system in our country has strayed from its merit-based roots. Nowadays, it is largely dictated by politics and protocol, resulting in a troubling trend where the most suitable candidates, those with the right skills and experience, are often overlooked for positions in their own fields. The normalization of protocol in our country’s employment system is alarming. Why should this be the burden of qualified graduates who lack these insider connections and cannot afford to pay exorbitant sums like 20,000 Ghana Cedis simply to secure a job?
- How do these academic courses relate to the government’s inability to generate employment through industrial development? Is it fair to blame the unemployed graduate for their field of study in the face of such systemic failures?
I doubt you would deem the same courses as ‘valueless and useless’ in countries like Qatar, Japan, or the USA, where the full spectrum of citizens’ potential, including those without degrees, is recognized and harnessed effectively.
Each of these countries has capitalized on its unique qualities through tailored educational approaches; Qatar in managing natural resources, Japan in technology and manufacturing. Similarly, Ghana has the potential to nurture its own unique assets by reassessing and reshaping its education system to align with its distinct cultural and historical milieu, thereby creating job opportunities that reflect its specific strengths.
The narrative that glorifies certain fields while diminishing the importance of others is unacceptable and should not be tolerated in any media space. As a counselor, I expected you to be mindful of the psychological toll on graduates with qualifications in these so-called ‘useless’ courses; individuals who have invested significantly in their education yet find themselves in the ranks of the unemployed.
Have you considered the discouraging effect your write-up might have on prospective students? Those who aspire to enter these fields, driven by their innate potentials and talents, may be dissuaded from following their dreams due to such negative descriptions?
Daniel, have you pondered whether the courses you label as valuable could realistically accommodate every student if they all chose to pursue them? Are there sufficient industries and job opportunities in these fields to employ such many graduates? Doesn’t this risk create a massive surge in unemployment if everyone gravitates towards these few courses?
I would have appreciated you addressing unemployment with interventions that can alternatively help graduates to make life outside their degrees and dig into the causes of the high unemployment rate in the country and the way to go about it than shifting blames on the innocent graduates and the courses they offered!
It seems you didn’t consider the impact on the professors and teachers dedicated to these fields. What becomes of these programs if they lack students? Would this not also lead to job losses in academia? Your write-up, by focusing narrowly and divisively, fails to address the broader issue of unemployment, straying significantly from the core problems.
Above all, and considering these thought-provoking points, it’s vital to recognize that a diversified economy and the nurturing of our culture are key to dynamic national progress. We require every course discussed in your write-up, and likely even more, to truly thrive and adapt in our evolving world.
Our system must evolve to embrace and utilize the diverse talents of its citizens. While we have educators like Afful-Broni, Anamuah-Mensah, Raheem, et al. opining strongly to make leaders responsible in their book ‘Africanizing the school curriculum: Promoting an inclusive, decolonial education in African contexts’ relevant to Ghana’s context: Unfortunately, write-ups like yours rather condition citizens to internalize a sense of failure, attributing the challenges not to the missteps of those steering our affairs, but to their own shortcomings.
Ghana’s education system urgently needs to pivot from its Western-centric approach to a model that leverages our cultural strengths and focuses on skill development pertinent to our context, which could significantly lower unemployment rates.
Just as the world’s strongest education systems, Singapore, and Norway, are grounded in their unique, robust educational structures, Ghana too must chart a path true to its own identity and needs, a way to remedy the high rate of graduate unemployment.
The government has a huge responsibility in this, and I think that should be the topic of discussion rather than making some courses seem inferior.
Educational Theorist and Practitioner,
Former Lecturer, University for Development Studies, Tamale!