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Thinking in English : Failure and remittances

Posted by paa.kwesi on Tue, 04/24/2007 - 23:23

So this past weekend a couple of us got together and as usual talk turned to the land of our birth. Among the many things we laughed over, one thing that struck me during our conversation was that our very presence in aburokyire was a sign of failure of various systems at home. Not one of us are in aburokyire because we merely seek adventure, or the thrill of winter, but all of us came because we thought it was "the next big thing" in our lives. In other words, the motherland became too small for our ambitions, its opportunities too limiting, and our chances for the future in it glimmering somewhat weaker than the light we saw in aburokyire.

And travelling later that same weekend, I saw it again in the faces of those very many witnesses around these parts who speak foreign languages that I  understand when I overhear their conversations: the failure that drove us away from familiar sights and sounds and keeps us away until we can return like royalty.

But before I digress, the early weekend get-together conversation brought to mind an unfortunate comment a legislative official, a spokesman for the government, made on prime-time radio in Accra: that because of remittances we should even encourage folks to leave. To my mind now (then I only felt annoyed that he could be so brazenly encouraging immigration for the sake of cash returns for the government), it was a shameless admission of the failure of the system we put him in charge of administering.
 
Yesterday, as our young siblings went in to write their BECE--320,000+ of them-- more than half will have no opportunity to continue in any meaningful way even if they passed and could afford the education. The drop-out rate from SSS to University is even worse.

In fact, I tend to believe earlier drop-outs from the school system are more likely to succeed at something (trading, providing some sort of service, or running their own 1-woman business) by age 25 than those who drop-out later, given my own experience dealing with various people. The most formally educated Ghanaians lack the most initiative, with enthusiasm and curiosity peaking in those who graduated from an elite secondary school in the years between secondary school and university. Somehow, more school dulls the mind, and I've been more practically inspired by hawkers in Kumasi and hustlers in Accra who had to drop out (and are improving their situations themselves) than by many who hold the same level of education as myself (and are constantly planning on improving their situations with someone else's help). To whom much is given, yes, much is expected.

But I digress again. So yes, when I hear talk of remittances and how exciting they are to everyone and the false confidence it gives governments, I'm moved to depression because they are rejoicing in our collective failure.


Comments

GhanaThink Managing Executive

Food for thought

[quote=paa.kwesi]In fact, I tend to believe earlier drop-outs from the school system are more likely to succeed at something (trading, providing some sort of service, or running their own 1-woman business) by age 25 than those who drop-out later, given my own experience dealing with various people.
The most formally educated Ghanaians lack the most initiative, with enthusiasm and curiosity peaking in those who graduated from an elite secondary school in the years between secondary school and university. Somehow, more school dulls the mind, and I've been more practically inspired by hawkers in Kumasi and hustlers in Accra who had to drop out (and are improving their situations themselves) than by many who hold the same level of education as myself (and are constantly planning on improving their situations with someone else's help). To whom much is given, yes, much is expected.[/quote]

Some truth paa that.
Increasingly, a lot of the successful businessmen in Africa are those who have struggled from very humble beginnings and not the elite folk who gain stuff on a silver platter.


The other side of the coin

While i nod in agreement to most of your comments; i do wish to say however that migration does not signify a total failure of our system back home. In most respects Ghanaians abroad have become the life line and supporting work force together with other migrants which hold advanced economies together. Same way as other expartriates have come to live amongst us and are supporting our economy. A typical example is the health sector. Now for home grown talent to be able to infiltrate so called more advanced economies and play such vital roles is something i will rather choose to celebrate...goes to show we are right up there amongst the best of the best.

Moreover, i will beg to differ that every migration is economically based. Some are here because they are representing their country or home based companies abroad, some are here because of marriage, some got here because of survival so they had to run into exile for safety. And though this might sound suprising; yes some do chase the thrills. They come to enjoy the sights and the sounds and shoot some breeze and they return back home. Some also travel because of commerce.

On the officials comment, i agree with you that he was brazen. Perhaps in his bid to encourage the flow of money through our local banks to boost the financial markets he got carried away. But perhaps deep down he has got a point; not so much in remittances but perhaps in Diasporean residents saving, buying shares and bonds and partnerships in projects and companies back home so we can help boost the economy. We are the ones with the Pound, Euro and Dollar powers.

As for the argument that school dropouts or those who didn't go up to higher education are more likely to be more successful business men and women, i think there is a fine line there. For whiles their inability to go higher in education gets them into other avenues, the same argument can be made for those who go on to higher education because many a time the majority of those who go on to become graduates are all not from affluent backgrounds. Going higher up in education is an investment their parents make in them so they can have a better life and help back in return. And for people like that there is a determination to succeed and make it big in life. They are not under any illusions and dont take things for granted; they know where they came from.

THE CRINGE FACTOR! WHAT MAKES YOU THINK THAT GOD MADE THREE WORLDS AND THAT I COME FROM THE THIRD WORLD. THE ISSUE OF RACE IS GEOGRAPHICAL AND NOT A STATUS SYMBOL AND NEITHER IS MY SKIN BLACK NOR YOURS WHITE.


Omanba, I appreciate your

Omanba,
I appreciate your comments. I have a question--how do you define "best of the best"?


The 'BEST' analogy

As you know advanced countries would have you believe Africa is right there at the bottom of the tiered system of advancement in all walks of life. In other words anything from their side is the Best.
On the other hand we know better. We have our homegrown talent who we do appreciate as the best in their feild of expertise and of equal stature and no less qualified than their other counterparts. Now for this so-called advanced countries to heavily rely on our 'best talents' goes to show we dey inside their best too. We can stand up and be counted amongst them. Do you get my drift?

THE CRINGE FACTOR! WHAT MAKES YOU THINK THAT GOD MADE THREE WORLDS AND THAT I COME FROM THE THIRD WORLD. THE ISSUE OF RACE IS GEOGRAPHICAL AND NOT A STATUS SYMBOL AND NEITHER IS MY SKIN BLACK NOR YOURS WHITE.