Monday, December 20, 2010

PROMOTING EDUCATION IN THE RURAL AREAS OF GHANA; A DEVELOPMENT DILEMMA OR PARADOX


I cannot stop but think about how education is being developed in Ghana. Severally, I have hesitated to write this article but I guess I can’t hesitate anymore but write out the issue bordering my mind. This is but the beginning of a series of discussions on “Promoting Rural Education in Ghana”. The past three months or more has seen several issues emerging in the educational sector and whether politicians are subjecting the development of this sector to their whims and caprices. My concern began with the inception of Joy FM’s “Read One Hundred Programme”. In addition, the “Spelling Bee”, the SHS problem and currently the issue of child labour in cocoa growing areas in Ghana which I am now preview to have all motivated me to present my views on the educational sector particularly in relation to what is happening in the rural areas of Ghana.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

DEVELOPMENT: A PEACE-BASE APPROACH

It isn't the experience of today that drives men mad. It is the remorse for something that happened yesterday, and the dread of what tomorrow may bring.
- Robert Jones Burdette
“Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.”
- Martin Luther King, Jr.


The various definitions of development have always emphasis a situation of positive wellbeing of the individual, group or society. For instance, Gunner Myrdal explains development as the “upward movement of the entire social systems”. Everett M. Rogers also define development as “a type of social change in which new ideas are introduced into a special system in order to produce higher per capita incomes and levels of living through more modern production methods and improved social organization”. All these definitions imply a state or an end state of positivity that influences the wellbeing of mankind and the achievement of which is development. Secondly, these definitions imply that wellbeing is subjected to an individual’s, group’s or society’s understanding of wellbeing.

Interestingly, relativity is influenced by experience overtime and what is considered appropriate is subjected to the attributes of society that have shaped people’s understanding of life and wellbeing. In this sense, development is a state of mind. To Riggs (1970), development is a state of mind, a tendency, a direction but rather than a fixed goal it is rate of change in a particular direction; which is certainly positive. Accordingly, researches have consolidated these interesting observations with theories evolving to underpin the thinking of what development is and the factors that influence a state of development from the individual to the societal level. Modernisation Theory, Basic Needs Approach, Growth with Distribution, Right Based Approach, Integrated Development, etc. are examples of theories of development. The consequences of all these approaches are to ensure a society free from poverty; a negative phenomenon of deteriorating human wellbeing and welfare manifesting in low in income levels and inadequate employment opportunities, poor access to social services including education, health, water and sanitation, housing and energy sources. All these problems increase the concerns of man when it comes to his survival abilities and capabilities.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

ANALYZING AND MAINSTREAMING VULNERABILITY ISSUES IN DEVELOPMENT PLANNING

While anyone can be vulnerable, the poor and the near poor are particularly at risk because they have fewer assets, reserves, or other opportunities to fall back on during natural and artificial negative uncertainties.


Introduction
World trends in development action are aimed primarily to reduce the incidence of poverty and promote sustainable development. However, the achievement of this goal starts with the understanding of the causes of poverty. Poverty translates into hunger, high incidence of diseases, inaccessibility to social services, increase risks and insecurity. In a broader perspective, poverty can be defined to mean the absence or loss of livelihood security or a situation where a person is exposed to risks and shocks leading to the erosion of his livelihoods. This is because “a livelihood comprises the capabilities, assets (including both material and social resources) and activities required for a means of living” (Conway and Conway 1992). Consequently, poverty results from the loss of livelihoods or the breakdown of the livelihood support, i.e. poverty results from a situation where the means of protecting citizens against loss of income, food, education, health, shelter, etc. breaks down. While anyone can be vulnerable, the poor and the near poor are particularly at risk because they have fewer assets, reserves, or other opportunities to fall back on (ADB 2007). This realization has a direct impact on poverty reduction both in view of how we protect citizens from falling below critical poverty; and how we can help in mitigating and coping with social and other risks (Morduch 1999).

Friday, September 24, 2010

POPULATION AND DEVELOPMENT PLANNING; THE IMPLICATION FOR GHANA'S DEVELOPMENT

The realisation that man is central to development action and interventionism marks the beginning of poverty reduction and sustianbale deevelopment. Without this realisation, development becomes an illusion and subjective only to the values and norms of the planning technician.

Introduction

The success of development planning in Ghana is dependent on the capacity of development practitioners most especially in the public sector at the local, regional and national level to identify the needed interventions to be initiated for the upward movement of the entire human environment. Human resources are the people who do the work that helps organizations fulfill their missions (Schermerhorn 2002). They posess in sum knowledge, expertise, and energy available to promote organizational effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability. The human resource of any organisation is indispensable to an organization's development as they are the actors whose knowledge and performance advance the organization’s purpose, mission, and strategies.

Promoting effective development planning in Ghana therefore demands the availability of individuals whose capacities have been developed to understand the intricacies of development. These persons must be able to appreciate the nature of the process of development to which human beings or societies are entitled to freedom and welfare or upward shifts in their standard of living and also identify this process as the ultimate aim of development planning.

Development planning is an integrative and comprehensive process of conscious actions about the decisions of resource utilization to meet the needs and aspirations of people in a sustainable manner. Currently development actions and interventionism have shifted from a solely economic perspective to a much broader, integrative and participatory processes. Similarly, development planning has also shifted from a “conscious effort on the part of government to follow a definite pattern of economic development in order to promote rapid and fundamental change in the economy and society” (Weitz, 1986) to an integrated approach that recognizes planning as a conscious effort on the part of government to promote quantitative and qualitative improvements in the standard of living of the citizenry by building cross-sectoral linkages and participatory interventions.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

UNDERSTANDING SOCIAL CAPITAL FOR ENHANCING CIVIC ENGAGEMENT IN GHANA

Abstract
Social capital is relatively a modern development concept that attempts at presenting the relationship between individuals and organisation and their interaction at the local level as potentials to civic engagement (participation) and empowerment. The fundamental premises underpinning this concept encompasses those of local values, trusts, social cohesion, networking and institutional effectiveness. The concept of social capital is generally associated with social development, civic participation and with networks of co-operation and solidarity (Franke 2005). Thus, building a strong social capital at the local level where there are non-existing and strengthening that of communities with social capital present development practitioners with an effective potential for promoting civic engagement at the community level. Social capital from the public/development policy perspective articulates the concept as a clear starting point for effective dialogue on public issues. Clearly, there is a link between social capital and civic engagement. Subsequently, building a strong social capital at the local level will form a solid foundation for civic engagement that respond to the development needs of people. As would be seen, examples of studies conducted across many countries reveal how social capital has influenced civic engagement and its consequential positive outcome on community empowerment. This therefore is the thrust of this research.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

SO WHY DEVELOPMENT-INDUCED IMPOVERISHMENT?

Mahatma Gandhi - "The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone's greed". Greedy people cause other people to be poor or poorer through exploitation and corrupt practices. In addition, they reduce the quality and quantity of development actions and the consequent benefits aimed at individuals and communities leaving them worse off or with weaker conditions to manage, mitigate and reduce risk and shocks 
 I have read on the causative factors of poverty and I have come to appreciate that the destination of several activities; whether actively or passively; have two consequences which are either negative or positive and at times both. And even though some actions may be consciously and continuous directed at promoting human welfare they rather worsen the situations of people.

For every individual there are conditions that help in reducing, mitigating and/or coping with risks that may render them vulnerable to improving their wellbeing be it physically, socially, economically and/or politically. All of which affects man’s survival.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

THE CONCEPTION OF NETWORK ON DEVELOPMENT INDUCED IMPOVERISHMENT


One aspect of the development and planning profession that has not been critically integrated into the development agenda in Ghana is the advocacy on development planning issues and best practices. This realisation is profound not only among the illiterate population of the country but also among the elite society of the country. Ironically, the professionals in this field have the erroneous perception about increase advocacy on best practices on development for fear of loosing contracts from the market. Notwithstanding this perception which most professionals would vehemently deny, the transition of trained professionals in development into other sectors of the country; because of the human resource development, project management and systematic and analytical capabilities of these individuals; has been a contributing factor. Coupled with the political challenges to planning solutions to developmental problems in the country which undermines the abilities of planners in their effort to reduce poverty in Ghana, it is imperative for effective advocacy on development and planning to put politicians and other decision makers on their toes.