By D.I. Laary/Aborchie B. Christielove
Accra, Sept. 30, GNA - University for Development Studies (UDS) has launched the second edition of “History of Education in Northern Ghana” written by Professor Raymond Bagulo Bening, the founding Vice Chancellor of the university.
With his new book, the former chancellor was also a professor of geography and resource development studies at UDS and has authored several locally and internationally acclaimed books, with his new book seeks to provide a deeper insight into the education gap between north and south.
The book is also about the north-south divide in the country with regard to investment in infrastructure, medical facilities and education.
Reviewing the book, Professor Helen Yitah, Former Head of Department of English at the University of Ghana, said “we can trace this chasm back to the British occupation of what came to be known as the Northern Territories in 1902.”
“It was possibly in education that this lack of investment in the region came to be most drastically felt.
“The statistics of state resources towards building schools and ensuring that these schools have qualified teachers reveal deep seated structural cracks.
“The endeavour to ensure education for the North started out wrong and went totally awry over the years, so that today the teacher-student ratio and the percentage of children in school are skewed when compared to other regions of the country.”
The history of education in the Northern Territories (NT) was described as selective meritocracy.
The history of colonial Ghana shows that most of the schools in the Gold Coast Colony and in the Colony of Ashanti were built and administrated by missionary societies which are amply highlighted in the book.
Professor Yitah said: “But this book does more than document the statistics: it also tells the stories of the struggle of the few who took advantage of the education offered.
“Those of us who claim that education was free in the NT will be duly enlightened by these stories: of people who could not pay the annual fees of between thirty and eighty shillings per child, which they were initially told they could settle in instalments, either in cash or in kind.
“Later on, when some parents defaulted in these payments, full payment was made mandatory. The cruel irony of demanding so much from a people with so little to give must have been lost on the colonial government.
“For most NT parents, it would have been the case of “where a tortoise is found is where it will be picked” - a ‘Kasem’ saying that is often quoted to express abject poverty and the helplessness that accompanies it.
“This is essentially a story of disastrous decisions by a colonial administration, its misunderstanding of the geographic area they had designated as the NT and its indifference to the consequences of whatever choices were made in the name of the British Governor.
“This is followed by post-independence failures to rectify the imbalance in the resources allocated to the north and allowing the divide to evolve into a chasm that today would be near impossible to bridge without extraordinary financial sources and political will, and Ghana appears to be without both today.
“This book must be required reading for all Ghanaians, for it has the potential, through promoting understanding of “where the rain began to beat us”, to galvanize national efforts to give northern Ghana is due.
Professor Jacob Songsore, a beneficiary of northern education, told his story about how he had his education under the catholic missionary school in Tamale.
Professor Bening said the quest for large number of people working for degrees was what influenced him to write the book.
UDS Vice Chancellor, Professor Gabriel Ayum Teye unveiled the book before large crowds of dignitaries including Mr Joseph Whittal, Deputy Commissioner for Commission on Human Right and Administrative Justice and Mr George Debrie, Deputy Registrar of UDS and several academicians.