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08.11.2007 General News

Time to draw a line under this saga


We revisit the case of Helena Abrokwa, the former Tema head teacher, who was allegedly demoted and transferred for speaking to the press, because of the deafening silence on the part of the Ghana Education Service on the matter.

Our enquiries have revealed that Ms Abrokwa is still at the new school and has not received any letter from the GES reinstating her.

Last Friday, following an emergency meeting of the Council of the Tema Municipal branch of the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), the Council reportedly gave the Director-General of the GES one week to restore Ms Abrokwa unconditionally to her former position.

We believe that it is time that the GES acted to draw a line under this embarrassing, sorry saga.

As we stated in our editorial of October 11, when the news of Ms Abrokwa's plight came to our attention, we found the alleged reason for the demotion and transfer too preposterous to be true.

We could not believe that in Ghana 2007 merely saying that the number of pupils in school was low on re-opening day, practically constituted a treasonable offence, or state secret, meriting unusual and cruel punishment.

One wonders why the GES has not acted speedily one way or the other to resolve the matter.

From the huge outcry in the media, as well as on other public platforms, it is clear that the public believe that Ms Abrokwa was given a very raw deal by her boss.

The boss, the Tema Municipal Director of Education, Lucy Kwapong, not only transferred Ms Abrokwa, but also demoted her for the 'crime' of speaking to the hearing of the press about the comparatively low turnout of one class on the first day of school.

Indeed, the Media Foundation for West Africa is on record as offering its support to Ms Abrokwa to take the matter to court because the Foundation sees the case as an infringement of free speech.

If the GES is convinced that Mrs Kwapong acted appropriately and correctly, and therefore they are backing the demotion and transfer, they should come out and tell the public.

If, on the other hand, the GES accepts that Ms Abrokwa has been most unjustly and shabbily treated, then the best thing is to reinstate her, cancel the transfer and apologise to her so that the matter can rest.

Why the silence?

We don't want to think that the GES is daring the GNAT to carry out what is implied in the ultimatum; or that the GES is daring those who want to go to court to do so.

The matter is now an issue of great public and national interest, so the GES needs to act before the GNAT or free speech activists take their next, logical step.

Moreover, it is untenable that at a period in this country's history, when the international community is saluting Ghana's democratic credentials, the GES should allow somebody's error of judgment about a minor incident in a school to dent the country's deserved free-speech credentials.