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“Telenovelas influence education in Ghana”
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“Telenovelas influence education in Ghana”

Rapid growth of pop television is distracting students from studies and introducing mature content to young audiences, writes Kenneth Gyamerah, 26, a Correspondent from Kumasi in Ghana. He recalls television’s early days, and calls for measures to protect children from inappropriate programming.

When I was growing up in the early 2000s , people who had televisions were held in high esteem in my community. At that time, the black and white television in a wooden cabinet was luxury because only few people were able to afford them.

I quite well remember that in those days, there were only three people in the community who had a television.

During holidays, many young people would converge at the back of the houses of the television owners, who opened their windows for children to peep through. The youth would stay glued to the emitting rays of the black and white wooden ‘president’ television, determined not to miss sight of the programs shown by Ghana Television.

Educational, entertaining and informative programmes were the source of education and inspiration to young people at the time. The  programmes instilled values, patriotism and a sense of belonging to people. The representation of cultural elements served as a great medium to building and strengthening national identity.

Morality was at its highest peak in those days.These educational programmes safeguarded ethics and good conduct in that generation. In those times,  the media was serving as a tool for transforming lives of young people through their programmes.

The few television stations at that time were pivotal in the building of a country where community, responsibility and civic education were paramount.

In this 21st century, which has come with the advent of digital television in Ghana, many TV stations have emerged. Most of these stations have ended up copying soap operas or ‘telenovelas‘ blindly from India, Mexico and Brazil.

Within a twinkle of an eye, these telenovelas have gained prominence in the Ghanaian media. These fictional movies command  high patronage from both adults and children. Currently, Kumkum Bhagya, Veera and Simply Maria are capturing growing numbers of viewers.

Much has been said about the falling standards of education in recent times. Stakeholders and educators have tied the problem to the theoretical nature of the Ghana education curriculum, which is true, but I think the problem goes beyond that.As an educator, I think many factors have contributed to the abysmal performance of students. It’s good to revisit our curriculum, but I think we should also look at the emergence of telenovelas that have distracted students’ attention from reading and conducting  research.

Almost 80 per cent of Ghanaian children between ages six 18 spend an hour to watch telenovelas every night.

Aside from the time spent in watching, these children are exposed to immorality at a tender age. Most of the telenovelas are romantic, with adult content. These scenes are not supposed to be seen by adolescents who are very curious at that stage of their lives. No wonder that, according to the Ghana Health Service report in 2016 , in every 24 hours a teenager gives birth in Ghana.

It’s absolutely wrong for parents to gleefully watch these telenovelas with their kids, instead of supervising them to attend to their books.

Watching movies is very good, but some movies are to be reserved for some particular group of people – not school-going children who are supposed to be changing lives.

I don’t think any parent who watches and discusses telenovelas with their children has the moral right to criticise school authorities, teachers and the government when performance of their wards decline.

There is a call on parents, the Ministry Of Education, Ghana Education Service, the Ministry of Communication, the National Communication Authority and other stakeholders to pay attention to the emergence of telenovelas, which pose a serious threat  to quality education, by adopting strict measures which will ensure that students do not spend time on these movies.

Reach me on Twitter:@kennethgyamera

photo credit: kigaliwire We like watching TV via photopin (license)
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About me: I am a youth activist, writer and a professional teacher.

I am an enthusiast on all issues concerning youth, and feel fulfilled through engaging in policy related discussions and deliberations on youth empowerment and development. I am passionate about organising for a global youth agenda, and want to be the voice for the less privileged in Ghana.

My interests lie in advocacy, writing and teaching, which has led to involvement with a number of global youth-related organizations.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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