Inspired by Samuel Obour’s post The ‘Devil’ on our roads I’ve finally decided to spill the beans on my experience at a Ghanaian driving school.
I had never driven a car before but I did go to motorbike training school in the UK and took a test. Much of the advice I was given by my instructor stuck in my mind and served my in good stead whilst driving a car.
Let me say that I absolutely loved my classes and thought the teaching was very good, well-structured and enjoyable. I would do it again! Yet there were a few issues which were significant in both the teaching and the exam that may give some explanation for the lack of road awareness and lack of discipline from many drivers.
What was interesting about my driving school were the number of taxi drivers that were students. Yes, they were driving taxis but had not taken their tests!
In my practical lessons one issue came up when I indicated whilst approaching a roundabout that I intended to take the left turning (we drive on the right). My instructor asked me what I was doing and when I explained he told me to turn it off or I’d confuse the other drivers. When I explained that it was in the Ghanaian Highway Code he said that we don’t bother with that. I was taught the most useful Ghanaian driving skills which were driving bumper to bumper, blocking traffic from the side road from gaining an advantage over me and to ‘force’ my way into other traffic! Personally, I would expect a driving school to teach the law, the Highway Code and to transmit good practise no matter what the street-style of driving is.
The written paper was difficult but in our final lesson our teacher told us the techniques we would need in order to cheat. We should sit close to our classmates, not cover our papers but to push them forwards on our desk so they were clearly visible and to strain our necks, but not too much, to gain peeks at the next person’s answers if we get stuck. Well, I did get stuck at one point and followed my teachers advice only to discover that my classmates on either side were waiting for me to answer before they did! So I really did pass on my own merit. But my classmate had poor peeking skills was caught, moved and failed. Another friend who had already passed the test was now taking it again in his friends name but failed this time!
The driving exam was held in an estate which had no traffic. It involved driving around, stopping when the instructor stepped into the road (this was the equivalent of an emergency stop but as we could see the instructor from a distance we had lots of time to prepare for this emergency) and reversing back into the car park. So there was no 3-point turns, driving on a hill or negotiating other traffic. My first class mate reversed so recklessly I screamed and sadly he failed.
I passed all areas, according to my result paper, except the word “PASS” had not been written on it. Our supervisor from driving school explained that I won’t get my “pass” until I have given the examiner some pocket money, which, of course, I did. And one of my classmates, feeling sorry for the poor examiner, decided to top it up very generously. Well that did the trick! I got my pass and everyone who had failed did so too!
So regardless of the generally good practical teaching in my class, the final check point – the exam – failed to keep bad drivers off the road.
Of course I was stupid for even going to driving school and spending all that money to do so. I could have done what many others do – saved my time and money and bought my licence instead!