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Yankah: Integrat Ghanaian Culture in Education for Growth

by Adenike Adeodun

Kojo Acquah Yankah, a respected statesman and academician, has called on the Ghanaian government to overhaul the country’s educational framework to foster a sense of pride in Ghanaian and African heritage among the younger generation.

According to a report by Graphic Online, Yankah emphasized the need for self-realization as Ghanaians to address the country’s distinct economic challenges effectively. “Our education system, as it stands, diverts us from our African identity, rendering us unable to tackle our economic issues,” stated Yankah, the founder of the African University College of Communications (AUCC).

His remarks were made during the 8th R.T. Orleans-Pobee Memorial Lectures held on October 26, 2023, where he discussed the relevance of modern education, reflecting particularly on the legacy of Adisadel College. This event, hosted by the Adisadel Old Boys Association, pays tribute to the former headmaster, Robert Thompson Orleans-Pobee, who served from 1963 to 1974.

As a former Editor of the Daily Graphic and a cultural activist, Yankah criticized the current education system’s tendency to alienate young Ghanaians from their cultural identity, perpetuating a colonial-era objective of Western assimilation.

“Sixty-six years since political independence, our educational approaches have failed to liberate the Ghanaian populace economically, leading to widespread poverty,” Yankah observed. He expressed concern over the brain drain phenomenon, highlighting the exodus of skilled professionals and the youth’s growing disenchantment.

Yankah, an Adisadel alumnus from the class of 1964, underscored the negative impact of an educational system that undermines self-confidence and creativity. “Our education doesn’t reinforce the universal truth of human dignity. It wrongly upholds a narrative of select ‘chosen ones,’ leaving the rest feeling inadequate,” he opined.

Drawing parallels with India, Yankah, also a former parliamentarian and minister, admired how India preserved its cultural identity and creativity despite colonial experiences, saving substantial capital by avoiding dependency on foreign imports for clothing.

He questioned, “Why hasn’t our education system in Ghana, and by extension, Africa, promoted economic progression?” He attributed this stagnation to reforms that skirt around fundamental issues.

Yankah condemned the post-colonial disregard for African traditional religions and lauded Indians for maintaining their cultural and religious identity globally. He reminisced about the ambitious educational reforms initiated during Nkrumah’s governance, which regrettably derailed following his ousting.

Advocating a profound change, Yankah urged the integration of African heritage, history, and traditional wisdom into the educational curriculum. “Incorporating local proverbs and aphorisms can enhance problem-solving skills rooted in patriotism and indigenous knowledge,” he asserted.

Furthermore, he suggested Pan-Africanism, the very foundation of the nation, be a compulsory subject, reducing xenophobic sentiments among Africans. “Let’s cease viewing our African counterparts as competitors or foreigners,” concluded Yankah, pushing for a transformative educational experience.

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