When the Central Regional Minister, Ms. Ama Benyiwa-Doe, opines that Ghana is on the brink of a manpower crisis, she does not quite hit the proverbial nail dead on its head. To be certain, what our country is acutely in short supply of these days is what may be aptly termed as “intellectual power” (See “Replace Aging Faculty – Benyiwa-Doe Urges University Authorities” Ghanaweb.com 8/30/10). For one only needs to take a casual glance at the so-called National Youth Empowerment Program (NYEP) to conclude that, indeed, Ghana is suffering from a “manpower glut.”
Likewise, however hard, or even casual, one looks at the picture, Ghana cannot be aptly said to be suffering from “brain drain.” For the latter crisis presupposes that highly educated and gainfully employed citizens are leaving the country for the proverbial greener pastures in droves. To be certain, highly trained Ghanaian professionals have been leaving the country in alarmingly remarkable numbers. The significant fact here to observe, however, is that they are leaving en masse precisely because these highly trained professionals – namely, engineers, doctors, nurses, professors and lawyers – are not gainfully employed. And by the latter is meant that they are woefully under-salaried and more often than not professionally disincentived, which implies that the skills for which they were arduously trained at great costs are significantly under-utilized; and the resulting scenario is that they become underappreciated by a largely unknowing public.
Indeed, our highly trained professionals are woefully and perennially under-utilized because most policymakers prefer to line their pockets and wallets with funds earmarked for national development. Their sense of national prosperity appears to be measured according to how many relatives and business associates are doing as well as themselves. The rest, as they say, may rot in hell. Of course, they do not literally appropriate the latter idiom. Rather, it is their in/actions that loudly and clearly proclaim the foregoing.
In essence, what has been invariably and perennially mis-diagnosed as a “manpower crisis” is actually what may be aptly termed as “deliberate national incapacitation,” which simply means that officials in government are often not farsighted and foresighted enough to lay down far-reaching policies to ensure the sound and steady development of our country at all levels of endeavor. For instance, regressive attempts by the so-called National Democratic Congress (NDC) to drastically reduce the duration of our elementary school system without adequately guaranteeing qualitative curricular boost, has logically meant that the present generation of elementary school pupils would be far less capable of dealing with the great challenges of living in a post-industrial Information Economy than their predecessors of a generation or two ago.
What is even more painful about this entire affair is the fact that it is being unconscionably prosecuted by a remarkable percentage of those who benefited from the best that postcolonial Ghana has had to offer. And these nation-wreckers are fully aware of the havoc that they are deliberately wreaking on the destiny of our nation at large. And this is readily attested by the fact that almost every one of them have sent their children abroad, often to Western Europe and the United States of America for schooling.
And so when Ms. Benyiwa-Doe, the loud-talking Central Regional Minister, asserts that the faculty at our nation’s flagship academies are fast aging with no viable and youthful replacement in sight, primarily because “university teaching is no longer a cherished job,” she deviously avoids the critical question of NDC policy on higher education. And one ought not be surprised at all, if it should turn out that, indeed, the Atta-Mills government has absolutely no worthwhile policy agenda, short of electioneering platitudes, on higher education.
Thus it was all to be expected, when Ms. Benyiwa-Doe made not a single concrete reference to how her government intended to nerve up a rapidly aging university faculty while opening a two-day conference hosted by the Commonwealth Universities Study Abroad Consortium (CUSAC) at the University of Cape Coast (Ghanaweb.com 8/30/10).
Needless to say, there are many of us college professors resident abroad who would rather be teaching and researching in our land of birth. But, unfortunately, with our country saddled with a leadership so pathetically self-serving – Ms. Benyiwa-Doe, for instance, is widely reported to have built herself a mansion in plush and exclusive East Legon within just a year of the Atta-Mills government’s assumption of the reins of governance – how can any well-meaning Ghanaian professional imbued with the sacrificial spirit of statesmanship be adequately encouraged to pitch tent in such a socioeconomic and culturally suicidal environment?
Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is a Governing Board Member of the Accra-based Danquah Institute (DI) and the author of 21 books, including “Ghanaian Politics Today”(Atumpan Publications/Lulu.com, 2008).
The opinions expressed here are the author`s and do not necessarily reflect the views or have the endorsement of the Editorial Board of AfricaNewsAnalysis