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The Ghana National Education Campaign Coalition (GNECC) has called on the Ghana Education Service (GES) to ban political activities in first and second cycle institutions across the country, in order to ensure the protection and discipline of students.
The call by GNECC follows the dismissal and barring of some 14 final-year students from writing their remaining West African Secondary School Certificate Exams (WASSCE) by the GES.
The GES dismissed the students identified in various videos that have gone viral on social media, inciting and participating in vandalism on various school campuses after sitting their first few WASSCE papers.
Four teachers have also been interdicted in connection with the violence that erupted in the schools.
In a statement signed by its interim Chair Joseph Homadzi, GNECC condemned “the gross misconduct of some teachers and final-year students [sitting] the West African Senior High School Examinations in various parts of the country.”
The Coalition noted that it “promotes respect for the fundamental rights of children to free quality education as provided in the 1992 Constitution, and further amplified in various international conventions including the Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4), we do not support riotous behaviour or any other acts of indiscipline by either students or teachers within or outside the school setting”.
“Inasmuch as the Coalition has always championed the fundamental right to education for every Ghanaian child, particularly the most vulnerable and marginalised, we also hold the view that these same children must make the most of opportunities afforded them and understand that their rights come with commensurate responsibilities.”
According to the GNECC, “instilling a sense of discipline and integrity in children is an important part of education. The Coalition, therefore, commends the swift disciplinary actions by the Ghana Education Service against the students involved. We believe the sanctions meted out are adequate enough to deter other students from engaging in similar acts. The Coalition is of the view that all culprits must face the consequences of their actions.”
The GNECC is however of the opinion that “sanctions should not be detrimental to the welfare and prospects of the child” and, therefore, added its voice to “calls to allow these students to complete the examinations in order to avoid losing the considerable investment of time and scarce resources in their education.”
The Coalition also proposed that the GES “reviews its directive in accordance with the Children’s Act, 1998 (Sections 2 and 13), and the principle of non-retrogression as provided in various international conventions to which the State has committed.”
It also reiterated calls for “strengthening and adequately resourcing the guidance and counselling structures in both basic and secondary schools to provide appropriate psycho-social support to those who may be having challenges with their studies.
The statement continued that: “Parents are also critical stakeholders in education and play an essential role in shaping the child’s character.
“In line with this, the Coalition calls on parents to take more active roles in instilling positive values in children and not leave the responsibility entirely to schools. Education is a shared responsibility and every stakeholder must play their role to ensure proper development of the country’s human resources.”
GNECC also reiterated its demand “that partisan political activities, whether direct or indirect, are kept away from schools since it has the potential to undermine efforts to maintain discipline in the schools” and called on the GES “to enforce its ban on political activities in first and second cycle schools in the country in order to protect” children.
Meanwhile, President Nana Akufo-Addo has directed the Minister of Education, Dr Mathew Opoku Prempeh, “to engage the Ghana Education Service (GES) to reconsider its decision to ban some 14 dismissed final-year senior high school students” from sitting the ongoing West African Secondary School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).
A statement signed by the Director of Communication at the Presidency, Mr Eugene Arhin, said: “Even though the acts of indiscipline undertaken by these students are intolerable, acts which have led to their subsequent dismissal from school, President Akufo-Addo is of the firm belief that dismissal alone is enough punishment and would serve as enough deterrent against future acts of indiscipline.”
The President, the statement noted, “believes that everyone deserves a second chance in life, and is, thus, hopeful that the students will be allowed by the GES to take their final examination as scheduled”.
“Indeed, all other punishment imposed by the relevant authorities should remain in place”, the statement added.
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