Several concerns have been expressed about indiscipline in many aspects of our Ghanaian lives which is a state of disorder because of lack of self control and self discipline of human behaviour, that is, the way we behave and do things in our daily lives, the way we speak to the elderly in the family, community and the society. Issues of respect and courtesy towards the elderly by the youth and true humility that the national anthem talks about are all challenges that must be collectively handled and eliminated in the society.
For us, that is, as individuals, farmers, academia, lawyers, professors, teachers, doctors, Nurses, labour unions and the like to be able to repair this damage or to be able eliminate this canker (indiscipline) in the Ghanaian society, we must together and collectively understand what was the situation in the colonial and modern era, forms of indiscipline, the factors that contributes to indiscipline and gestures that will promote discipline. This script is therefore intended to provide a frame work of ideas and factors that in my view contribute to indiscipline in our Ghanaian society.
Colonial and Modern Era Situation
- Situation of the Colonial Era
In the olden days, our forefathers had to overcome a lot of obstacles on their way to a particular destination. For example, they sometimes, had to cross huge or large rivers and at times even had to climb trees and hide to avoid attacks by wild animals.
Also, our forefathers in the olden days had to look up at the position of the sun and listen to cockcrow to tell the time. This was the era where it was possible to talk about African punctuality. Despite the above situation, teachers and school children were time-conscious. School children were obedient and adhered to all rules of the school to avoid being punished.
There were also slogans like “Government time, no joke, no delay, and time is money. Soon after Independence, things went wayward and every thing about time consciousness slackened. From my perspective, this is a brief description of the colonial era situation.
- Modern Era Situation
The modern situation on discipline and time consciousness in Ghana is not the best. This, however, has been influenced by modern technological advances and globalization that have made life easier to bear for example, we do not have to walk long distances by foot like our forefathers use to do in the colonial era and uncertain as to when we are going to arrive at the destination anymore.
This is so because there are now vehicles and airplanes that can travel long distances within a short period of time and we also have watches that we put on our wrists to keep us informed about the time at any point in the day and night.
In this respect, it is important to have conform to what is being practiced elsewhere in Europe in our time consciousness and time management but the situation is different. Time consciousness and time management in this present era is a very crucial measure for overcoming indiscipline in our Ghanaian society at large and should be seriously tackled by all stakeholders, that is, parliamentarians and law enforcement agencies.
Forms of Indiscipline
The under listed are some forms of indiscipline in our Ghanaian society:
- Negative behaviour and attitudes – the way we behave and do things.
- Lack of respect and courtesy for the elderly and people in authority.
- Lack of reporting to work regularly and punctually, leading to delays in handling official businesses.
- Lack of transparency and accountability, leading to mistrust and lack of confidence in the leadership.
- Lack of time consciousness and time management and
- Disregard for societal beliefs and moral values.
Factors that Contribute to Indiscipline
The factors contributing to indiscipline in my view are:
- Some people in authority have abandon time consciousness, leading to delays and responses to people’s needs.
- Not adhering to time is not regarded as a serious negative behaviour by the society anymore.
- Reporting to work late is no more considered a negative behaviour by workers generally.
- Even when regarded workers tend to give excuses of lack of transport and traffic delays.
- Law enforcement agencies have relaxed in their duty to enforce the laws and codes.
- Above all, the youth of today, no longer have humility and respect for the elderly and for the people in authority.
Gestures that will Promote Discipline
My findings have proved that in the olden days, people, particularly children, were trained to have humility and respect for the elderly and people in authority. Also, adults who saw a child misbehaving, the person has the right to call that child to order and counsel the child irrespective of the relationship. Below are some gestures that my findings have found to be practiced in the colonial era:
- Children in the olden days stood and place one’s hands behind as he or she talked to the older person and do not pocket his or her hands either.
- Some cultural norms and values were used to protect children from indiscipline behaviours and attitudes for example, kneeling before an elderly person to greet him or her or receiving a gift from the older person.
- These have all been eroded and replaced with some borrowed modern practices which lead to the negative consequences of indiscipline that we are witnessing currently all in face of globalization among other things.
Indeed, we have lost discipline, time consciousness and time management, beliefs and moral values and the non-regard for these vital elements have become the order of the day which is a disease affecting our Ghanaian society. To succeed or to get rid of this menace and to restore discipline in the Ghanaian society, all stakeholders, that is, individuals, farmers, academia, lawyers, professors, teachers, doctors, nurses, labour unions must accept the fact that there is:
- Great indiscipline in our society to the extent that children do no longer show humility and respect towards their parents as well as respect for teachers and people in authority.
- The need to strive to regain discipline, time consciousness, time management and societal beliefs and moral values in the society.
- The need for stakeholders to see the problem as a priority and must together and collectively tackled from all angles and levels of our life.
- Parents, opinion leaders, teachers, government, employers, lawyers, labour Unions and professional associations leaders must practice and show good examples as role models.
- Special attention should also be given to indiscipline and stakeholders must endeavour to revert to the olden days practices where an adult could advice and counsel a child who is found misbehaving irrespective of the relationship.
In conclusion, it is my hope that those who will have the opportunity to read this article will derive some inspirations from the script to aid them strive to bring back discipline in the Ghanaian society. It can be possible now and into the future and with all hands and deck approach; attainment of discipline in our society can be possible.
By Aby Kuntulo
About the author
Currently, Abu D. Kuntulo is self-employed. He is the proprietor and Director of Kuntulo’s Ambulance Services. He is an Industrial Relations Practitioner, a Labour Expert and a Labour Consultant. He has been with the Health Services Workers’ Union of the Trades Union Congress, Ghana for the past twenty-four (24) years and retired on 30th June 2016.
His professional qualifications include a Diploma in Planning, Management and Curriculum Development, Diploma in Political Economy, Diploma in Workers Education in Industrial Relations, Certificate in National and International Labour Standards and a Certificate in Strategic Management.
He is an expert in workers education and capacity building and has expertise in planning, management and curriculum development. He is a veteran of the Trades Union Congress, Ghana and a Council of Elder of the Health Services Workers’ Union of the TUC, Ghana.