Students practice corruption at school
The St. Peter’s Secondary School (PERSCO) at Nkwatia in the Eastern Region has been identified as a breeding ground for corruption.
A report by the Committee of Enquiry that investigated the February 15, 2006 students’ riot at the school, said the students engaged in the trading of punishment for money and personal belongings.
According to the report, final year students were found to be giving unimaginable punishment to junior students in order to compel the juniors to opt for the exchange of money, food items or personal effects such as footwear in place of punishment.
The Committee observed that the students had developed their own unit of trade, which they called the “PERSCO DOLLAR”- the equivalent of 5,000 cedis. The Committee therefore recommended a ban on the practice saying, “otherwise this phenomenon would be the beginning of a culture of greater corruption in the larger society.”
Other inappropriate behaviours observed by the Committee included bullying. Senior students were found to be involved in lashing of juniors with belts, forcing juniors to keep wake deep into the night and asking juniors to kneel for extremely long hours.
Five students, Desbordes Reuben, a house captain, John Coffie, Frank Asiedu, Emmanuel Boama and Akey Sefiamor were identified as notorious bullies. Akey Sefiamor for instance, reportedly bullied a first year student to the extent that the victim attempted to commit suicide.
The Committee recommended the withdrawal of Akey Sefiamor and Frank Asiedu while the three others were given between two and three weeks internal suspension in hard labour.
While not holding brief for unruly junior students, the Committee urged authorities of the school to make conscious efforts to abolish bullying in all forms, adding that punishment given should commensurate the offence committed. Another negative practice that the Committee observed was the increase in the use of nicknames. “It seemed in St. Peter’s Secondary school, nicknames were so much in vogue that the real names of students were missing. Students could not tell the real names of their classmates; neither could parents identify their wards with their real names”, the report said.
Though, traditionally nicknames were acquired from people regarded as role models, the committee maintains that in PERSCO nicknames had no direct bearing on any role model. Rather, it had negative effects on the communal psyche of the student body as students hide behind nicknames to commit crimes. This was evident during the February 15 disturbances as the students constantly chanted names like “Zorro” and “Babwe”.
The report emphasized that nicknames delayed the progress of the committee’s work. “It took members a lot of time to identify owners of the nicknames that came up”, the report indicated.
Generally, indiscipline was found to be on the ascendancy, in a school once known for academic excellence and discipline. In the Committee’s view, the school should not over-emphasize academic excellence to the neglect of discipline. Rather the school’s authorities should strive to pursue the holistic up-bringing of students to ensure that the students become useful citizens.
It called for the establishment of an effective and operational carrier guidance and counseling team in the school and urged Form and House masters to seriously monitor the performance and conduct of students under their care so that they could make informed comments and recommendations on them. The Committee which was constituted by Hon. Nana Onwona-Asante, District Chief Executive (DCE) of Kwahu South had the Very Rev. Fr. Alfons Amanor, SVD as chairman and Messrs Nii Okaija Dinsey, District Director of Education; Samuel Adu Anang, Board of Governors Rep.; J. C. Gonu, PTA Rep.; Emmanuel Q. Ikpe, Kwahu South District Assembly Rep.; Gibson Anim, Old Boys Union Rep. and Charles K. Danso of the Ghana Education Service (GES) as members.