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15.03.2009 Feature Article

Are Ghanaian schools a caring environment?

Are Ghanaian schools a caring environment?

This article is in response to an article published on 15/03/2009 which stated that Pupil Dies After Caning

A packed Akim Oda Magistrate's Court was filled with shocked silence, when the prosecution read a charge of provisional murder against a teacher who allegedly administered two strokes of the cane on a 14 year-old pupil Victoria Ampofo who died later in the day. The teacher, Kwabena Gyan of Oda Nkwanta Local Authority Primary 'B' School punished her for lateness to school.

The central purpose of schools is to help children develop their own capacity for success in life, becoming effective citizens for democracy - individuals who have skills, attitudes, and knowledge to be productive community members, leaders, parents, and workers.

It seems children of 0-14 yrs in school are placed in a different category. These groups are brushed under the carpet in Ghana and as such their voices are not being heard let alone their needs identified. Does our educational system have a children and young people plan which takes into consideration that every child matters at all and strategies needs to be in place centrally for all school and colleges to strictly adhere to?

Having such a plan would not only develop and enable these group to be vocal to articulate their identified needs but also empower these them to make positive contributions in the child and young people plan. This would be a significant shift of power from our rigid bureaucratic educational system. It would be helpful if the Minister for Education and the education department engage with the DCE and local Chiefs and other stakeholders to write up the children and young people plan.

This stands in sharp contrast to those who believe that the every thing must come from the Government. Surely, the ultimate purpose of schools is to create workers who can meet the standards of industry. How can the Ghana Education system still van children instead of punishment for example, sweeping the classroom or tiding up in the school playground?

What standard form of education are we emulating to bring up school children through our system? The challenge is that most people when asked this question will agree that we should be educating children to be citizens, to become the people that they can be. Sadly, in practice in Ghana our current systems of standardized testing work directly against these outcomes are narrowing the focus in our curriculum of schools. In the 21st century the balance of power has shifted and we must involve parents and the communities of any developments.

The communities and schools have an obligation, and opportunity, to create schools that both create individual opportunity and further the social good by creating individuals who can provide community leadership to address and solve difficult problems. Is this not what education is about?

However, in view of the above how Ghana educational system could even allow this incident attached below to happen to a young girl capable of defending herself but choice to allow this canning as a sign of respect for her teacher is unforgivable.

How many more school must die before we stop this canning in our schools. This is barbaric and I will encourage the parents of Victoria Ampofo to sue the school. Hopefully through the court authorities bury Victoria and pay up compensation that Victoria would have given her parents. This barbaric act must be banned in all schools and colleges. This form of punishment is no longer acceptable norm in an advanced country like Ghana.

In normal schools parents and teachers meet up every term to discuss the progress and if there is any challenges how the school could schools could help in any way. Ghana is a long way from this ideology. Many school in Ghana stick to the stick instead of measures to problem solving.

Could this be that we lack the problem solving techniques approaches and therefore avoid any difficulties we face by picking up the cane. Would this be the reason why domestic violence in Ghana may be on the increase too? Perhaps this is an areas our educational system, work places and even at Strategic level might consider investing heavily to up roots old habits. We lack the problem solving skills and conflict resolution.

It is about time Ghana's educational system shame and name all schools engaging in this barbaric to any pupil in there care on our newspapers and TV. Hope the current Government would address these key issues as it violates the human rights of children and young people.

Mercy Adede Bolus
Mercy Adede Bolus, © 2009

The author has 172 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: MercyAdedeBolus

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