The O'Reilly Senior High School (SHS) at Adabraka in Accra is being phased out after 85 years of existence.
This, according to the Ghana Education Service (GES), is because the owners of the building housing the school are demanding their facility due to the Service’s inability to buy it outright.
The GES has, therefore, directed the school authorities that no form one students should be admitted for the 2010-2011 academic year.
Additionally, the current SHS Two students of the school are to be distributed among other SHSs, while the staff are to be reposted.
But the Chairman of the parent-teacher association (PTA) of the school, Alhaji Baba Iddrisu, said the association would not allow the school to be phased out and that it would go to court to prevent any attempt to implement the decision by the GES.
“O’Reilly is 85 years old and we will not allow it to die,” he emphasised, explaining that the decision would affect the students.
He said though the PTA was a major stakeholder, the letter from the GES was not copied to it and so it would write formally to the Minister of Education and the GES in protest against the GES decision.
Mr Iddrisu said the school and the students were national assets that must be protected.
The GES directives were contained in a letter signed by the Director of the Secondary Education Division of the GES, Mrs Victoria Opoku, and copied to the acting Director-General of the GES, the Greater Accra Regional Director of Education and the Accra Metropolitan Director of Education.
It said in preparation for the 2011 deadline for the school to vacate its present premises, it had become necessary to take the decisions mentioned.
The letter, dated August 9, 2010 and addressed to the headmistress of O’Reilly SHS, said, “In this direction, you are required to make possible effective distribution of SHS students to sister schools, submit to the Director of Secondary Education a comprehensive list of all SHS Two students and the programme each is offering and their places of residence.
“To facilitate the retention of requisite staff for third and final-year students, submit to the regional director the list of teachers to be retained and those to be reposted.”
Sources close to the school say SHS Three students entering their fourth year would remain in the present facility until they write their West Africa Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) and then leave for the final phase out of the school.
Authorities of the school are, however, tight-lipped over the matter, apparently shocked at the turn of events, especially when they had made proposals for the relocation of the school.
The Board Chairman of the school, Mr A.A. Buanya, said the board was in discussions with the GES on the relocation of the school.
“We are in discussions with the education service for the relocation of the school. As to whatever letter you are holding, that is a different issue,” he said.
The acting Director-General of the GES, Mr Stephen Adu, told the Daily Graphic that the service had received petitions from the staff, the PTA and the board over the situation at the school.
“Over the years, we have been hiring the facility at huge cost. Later, we were given an ultimatum to either buy the building or leave,” he said, noting that the amount involved was so huge.
He said the GES would, in the course of the week, discuss the various options available. “A decision will be taken on the matter this week,” he said, adding that management would look into the petitions and see what would be appropriate.
Mr Adu said the directives were not intended to harm or jeopardise the future of the students and that the decision to spread the second-year students was to enable them to acclimatise in the schools they would be sent before they reached final year, while fourth-year students stayed till they finished next year to meet the deadline to vacate the place.
Some teaching and non-teaching staff who pleaded anonymity said they did not know where they were going to be posted.
They wondered why the educational authorities, and for that matter governments, over the years could not find a place to relocate the school and instead arrived at the current decision.
“We identified a place at Amasaman for the construction of a new school but the authorities have not shown any interest,” one staff member said.
The staff said the school had even made preparations to admit SHS One students for the next academic year, adding, “We were going to use our laboratories and other offices to admit 300 fresh students for the 2010-2011 academic year.”
Though the school is on vacation, some students who were reached by the Daily Graphic described the decision to send then to other schools as disastrous.
They wondered why a new place had not been found for the school and cited the relocation of the Christian Methodist SHS from the Kwame Nkrumah Circle to New Aplaku in the Ga South municipality as an example.
“I am very disappointed. Our governments get money to sponsor other things but when it comes to critical things such as education they say there is no money,” one student who gave her name only as Mansa said.
O’Reilly SHS has a current student population of 656. The number comprises 353 SHS Two students and 303 SHS Three students. They are made up of 341 females and 315 males.
The school also has a staff strength of 72, with 52 being teachers and 20 non-teaching staff. It was established in 1925 by Reverend O’Reilly, a Sierra Leonean. It was adopted by the government in 1960 as a public school.