Students of the Government Secretarial School in Accra on Wednesday went on a five-hour demonstration to register their protest against the school’s acting principal.
Wearing red arm bands, caps and headgears, the students numbering over 100, gathered at the school as early as 8:00 am amidst chanting of war songs that brought academic and administrative activities to a halt.
At 9:45 am, when the acting Principal, Samuel Tetteh arrived, the students started shouting 'go away, go away' 'you must go' and they would not heed pleas for calm by some members of staff. They refused to go to their classrooms and turned down Mr.Tetteh’s invitation to meet with their leadership. Rather they proceeded to the Office of the Head of Civil Service where they presented a petition received by the Chief Director, Edward Barnes.
Speaking to the Times, a spokesperson for the students, Mary Colnerrosse gave a catalogue of grievances, accusing the principal of arbitrariness and corruption. She said that although their admission letters stated that they were to undergo an 18 month course beginning September 2005 to March 2007 Mr Tetteh had extended the period without any explanation.
She said that at a meeting with the students on Monday, January 15, Mr.Tetteh again announced the postponement of the release of the results of Stenographer Grade Two examination they wrote in November/December last year, from February to April.
She explained that although a person referred in a subject had two chances to write and pass the referred subjects before sitting for the Grade One examination, 'Mr. Samuel told us that students referred in the Grade Two examination would write the referred paper in June, at the time others would be writing the final paper, that is the Grade One'.
'This means that the referred candidates will write their grade one examination in December, and in that case we will be required to come for part time classes at a fee,' she said.
She also said Mr.Tetteh was supposed to have gone on retirement last December and wondered why he was still at post. She therefore called for an immediate action to be taken on him.
Miss Colnerrosse again alleged that Mr.Tetteh repeatedly said that 'our destiny is in his hands and since he failed his exams seven times, he will also fail us seven times'.
Some members of staff expressed support for the students’ action describing the acting principal as a 'dictator and morally corrupt person who does not want the school to progress.'
They alleged that some students who failed their examinations were passed after paying bribes to the principal, ranging between ¢1.5 million and ¢2 million.
When contacted, Mr.Tetteh said, 'I will not comment until I speak to my director'
The Government Secretarial School, located at Cantonments in Accra offers secretarial and business courses for senior secondary school leavers as well as refresher courses for secretaries and office administration.