Honourable Minister of Education,
(Very) Rev. Ministers
Distinguished Board Members, and Invited Guests,
Members of Conference of Assisted Secondary Schools
Parents and Guardians,
Hardworking Staff and Students,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Greetings from Winneba.
It is my pleasure to be part of this occasion, an occasion to mark the 13th Anniversary and Speech & Prize Giving Day of this relatively young but remarkable institution. I think I should count myself quite fortunate to be part of this history-making event. Perhaps what is equally heart-warming is the consideration of the theme at stake i.e. “Discipline, the key to Academic Excellence”. I guess so many factors have influenced the choice of this theme. Primarily, I should say the organizers have been quite patriotic to have settled on the concept “Discipline” as one of the core concepts of the theme, knowing very well the backdrop of indiscipline that appears to have engulfed our Ghanaian society today.
Mr. Chairman, for the issue to have merited a whole national crusade mounted against it from the very high office of the Vice-President of the Republic, means a lot. That is, it means the issue is of prime national concern, and should be viewed as a cancer that can have a devastating impact on the socio-economic and political growth of the country. Mr. Chairman, the second concept of the theme, “Academic Excellence” is of equal significance, as we are aware of the efforts government, education authorities, and other stakeholders are making towards ensuring quality education in the country.
In this discussion, what I intend us to do is to first attempt to explore the parameters of the concept “Academic Excellence” and later the constituents of “Discipline” as emphasized in the theme, and probably look at how best it can facilitate academic excellence. An attempt will be made to discuss some of the causes of indiscipline and strategies for addressing indiscipline in the country.
Mr. Chairman, one of the most frequently used phrases of our time in the educational circles is that of “Academic Excellence”; but the irony however is that, today while most people understand intuitively what they mean by academic excellence, there may not be a common understanding of the term. This is especially true now when education is increasingly understood to be more than just “reading, writing and arithmetic”. But Mr. Chairman, to all intent and purposes, gradually however, there is a growing consensus that the term should include the inclination to excel in one or more of the numerous academic enterprises. It is also understood as the description of achievement of great merit in the educational or the teaching/learning process. A major area of concern is the high proportion of students who exit basic education and even senior secondary school to go into the world of work without acquiring relevant knowledge and skills required for survival; the single stream secondary education that we are operating now has limited high academic performance to only the few people who have the potential; academic excellence to some requires the provision of alternative programmes that meet the interest, needs and potentials of the students. Looked at from this angle, institutions such as yours (i.e. secondary/technical schools) that provide technical and general academic programmes need to be commended and helped to grow through improvement in facilities including well equipped workshops.
The conceptualisation of Excellence in educational achievement may vary widely depending on the orientation of the person concerned. For example, it may be conceived as achievement in learner performance, in teacher performance, extra-curricular work, excellence in general behaviour and conduct of both staff and student, and even appearance and outlook of the school, including the culture of...