We’ve done an amazingly terrible job with our education – Nutifafa Kuenyehia

Chairman of law firm, Oxford and Beaumont, Elikem Nutifafa Kuenyehia says Ghana’s education system cannot contribute meaningfully to the country’s development.

“I think we have done a very terrible job with our education system”, the respected lawyer expressed his disappointment in a room packed with business leaders and entrepreneurs.

He was just warming up in a discussion on “FDI in Ghana, opportunities for Ghanaian entrepreneurship” at the 15th MTN Business World Executive Breakfast Meeting.

According to the lawyer, the only way Ghanaians can compete in the world arena is through the gift of a very good education.

“The most powerful thing you can give anybody is a good education” and the lack of it means the Ghanaian cannot even enter “the value chain” of contributing to his world.

The problem with Ghana’s education system, he diagnosed, it that it focuses on giving certificates without paying attention to what its products can really do on the job.

“By focusing on all these degrees which are not worth the paper they are printed on, you have people who have come out of university and cannot even write sentences,” he said.

Even in technical areas such as artisanship, Nutifafa re-echoed the complaints of an architect friend who had to bring in masons and artisanal support from Togo because Ghanaians were poor in the field.

“I speak to fashion designers and it is the same thing. You couldn’t find good tailors who are willing to put in the sweat”, he explained.

Ghana will have to simply “go back to the drawing board”, was his verdict.

The discussion moved on to a comparison between a Ghanaian living in London and another living in Ghana.

He referred to a Seth Tandoh research that concluded that the same Ghanaian gives out remarkable work rate after travelling to work in London.

The difference, he says, is “the system”.

“There is a big cultural difference” between developed countries and Ghana.

Taking note of the anti-productive culture of the Ghanaian, he often sends his employees and recruits to the company’s London office to experience cultural change he believes is necessary for success.

“I take him to London, I dump him there, three months later, he is a different person”, Nutifafa’s observation sank into a rapt audience.

He dedicated attention to the need for Ghana to pay and devote great attention to developing its people and shared a Chinese proverb to buttress the need for this attention.

“If you are planning for a year, plant rice, if you are planning for 10 [years] plant trees, if you are planning for a hundred years, you plant people. For me what we really need to focus on is our people”, he said.

Sharing how he tries to cultivate a progressive organizational culture at his law firm, Oxford and Beaumont, Nutifafa said, he has adopted a “leadership by listening, management by debate” culture at work.

It encourages even the most inexperienced intern to give off his opinions as strongly as possible as a part of a decision-making process at Oxford and Beaumont

“You have to speak up, I don’t always like what I hear, trust me…but I just shut up and hear what the person has to say.”

This model has proved successful, he stressed.
“I get a lot of credit for Oxford and Beaumont but honestly it is the people there”, he stated.

Should Ghana go Nigerian?
In answer to the question as to whether there can ever be a Ghanaian multi-billionaire business like Nigeria’s cement company Dangote, the astute entrepreneur and academic said Nigerians are fanatical supporters of their own businesses.

Dangote, valued at £12billion today wants to buy English club Arsenal.

“Nigerians are proudly Nigerian. We have the opposite thing. We all know the PHD syndrome [Pull Him Down] we have to be honest with ourselves…..the people who could give us work to do will rather go to a foreign law firm the foreign law firm call me up because the foreign law firm is not qualified in Ghanaian law…..until we start supporting our own we really don’t have a sense of comparison [with Nigeria].”

He commended the President’s Made-In-Ghana initiative but said that short of quality products, Ghanaian businesses will continue to struggle.

Story by Ghana|myjoyonline.com|Edwin Appiah|[email protected]


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