Again we are confronted with another cost of indiscipline on our road. We pay the cost of this canker with our lives, and now, our schools.
The tragic death of Mr. Sakyi Asare-Minaku, an official of the West African examination Council (WAEC), which was reported by the Ghanaian Times of Wednesday, October 12, 2005, is indeed unfortunate.
According to the paper's report, Mr. Asare-Minaku died from wounds he sustained after he was allegedly assaulted by some candidates of the ongoing Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (SSSCE) at the Accra Academy examination centre in Accra.
The assault followed a misunderstanding, which arose over the return of the candidates' cell phones which were ceased when the candidates were found holding them during the examination period, contrary to WAEC's regulations. According to the report, after the examination, the candidates waited for more than five hours but could not receive their mobile phones back.
Though the paper quotes DSP Jango of the Odorkor police as stating that Mr. Asare-Minaku had explained to the students that the delay in the release of the phones was because the examination council wanted to convince itself that the candidates did not go into the examination room with illegal information, this did not go down well with candidates.
The candidates then got angry and meted out instant justice to the official. The theme that runs through this tragic drama is indiscipline; both on the part of officials and the students.
First of all, how did the candidates get into the examination hall with mobile phones? Were the invigilators not supposed to thoroughly check every candidate and retrieve all illegal materials before allowing them into the examination room? What happened? Where were the invigilators?
Secondly, it is mind boggling that it had to take WAEC, an international examination body, more than five hours to find out whether or not, the 40 phones contained illegal information. If WAEC officials were duty conscious and mindful of examination anxieties and stress, they would have realized that the candidates, after going through a rigorous examination, had run out of patience and could vent their anger on anyone standing in their way. WAEC should take a chunk of the blame, since the students action boiled over from its failure to communicate their examination centers that caused a stampede some days earlier. It cannot in any case be justified that the candidates took the law into their own hands and caused the death of the official. The students' misbehaviour is indiscipline of the first order which should not be condoned by anyone. Public Agenda therefore urges anybody harbouring the suspects to release them to face the music.
WAEC should consider paying a huge compensation to the deceased's family to soothe their pains, though it must be acknowledged that money cannot replace his life. As we mourn the death of Mr. Asare-Minaku, we pray for a hopeful turning point in the way WAEC runs its affairs. What happened should be an eye opener to both WAEC and the country's educational authorities.