Tom Friedman’s New York Times article of June 28 got me thinking. Among other things, the article mentioned America’s need to invent its way out of this economic crisis. As he puts it, “necessity breeds invention” and he says if America is at the forefront of new ideas, the country’s promise will be renewed. Broadly, he makes the argument that whichever country uses this crisis to create new goods and services that make our lives easier will create the most prosperity for its citizens. According to Friedman, the country that “endows its people with more tools and basic research to invent new goods and services is one that will not just survive but thrive down the road.” He goes on to make comparisons between the U.S. and two of its main competitors Russia and China. He argues that Russia is complacent in this crisis because they rely mainly on appreciating oil prices to survive and criticizes Chinese attempts at censorship.
Anyways, I just wanted to give a little background. Like I said, it got me thinking a bit about Ghana. I thought his arguments made sense but I wondered whether Ghana was even on that level of thinking. Are we encouraging some of these attitudes in our schools, across all levels of the educational system? Are students in higher education(universities and colleges) and further down preoccupied with innovation or are they only worries about the next exam? Recent BECE results where slightly above 50 percent of students passed suggest that whatever the country is preaching, students are failing woefully. If my education in Ghana is anything to go by, little attention is paid to innovation and new thinking. The educational system rarely rewards creativity. We just chew what other people have invented and then pour it out on whatever exam paper we are scheduled to take.
Now, it seems the whole country is waiting for that black gold to start dripping in large quantities so we can bath in it and all become rich!!! So, soon it is not inconceivable that we would be looking at the pendulum-like swings that oil prices perform and holding our collective breath. And yet if Friedman is to be believed that may be the last place the nation wants to be.