By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
May 16, 2011
We continue our discussion of the problem of indiscipline, its impact on our national life, and why it is imperative for us to tackle it. We can’t grow our democracy in an atmosphere of indiscipline and disorder.
INDISCIPLINE AMONG THE TRADITIONAL RULERS
There is no doubt in my mind that some traditional leaders are also undisciplined. They bribe their way to become chiefs and queenmothers, thus creating tension all over the country. They are known to have committed other heinous crimes and fraudulently sold state lands indiscriminately to create trouble.
They don’t have any conscience to know that selling one plot of land to more than one person is an act of indiscipline. By indulging in anti-social acts, these traditional leaders have done much harm to the institution of chieftaincy and drawn public scorn.
INDISCIPLINE ON THE ROADS AND COMMUNITIES
Much of the rampant motor accidents are attributable to indiscipline on the part of the drivers and the errant security personnel whose duty it is to enforce motor traffic regulations but who choose to allow their palms to be greased and turn a blind eye to the obvious flouting of regulations designed to protect limb and property.
The high crime rate may not necessarily be the result of the worsening economic situation or high unemployment rate. I argue that the total breakdown of discipline in the country is also a major factor.
We are witnesses to the diminishing of respect for old age and authority. Some may claim that such a happening is the direct result of the modernization of our societies, indicating that standards considered as out of step with the changing times can no more be expected to be followed. Any such claim is dangerous because it has no basis in reality.
Pushed to the highest level, indiscipline becomes the floodwaters that feed the ocean of bribery and corruption, which have become so endemic in our society as to be seen as our second self. We can’t develop our country in this atmosphere of pervasive indiscipline and disrespect for law and order.
INDISCIPLINE IN THE SCHOOLS
Indiscipline in our educational institutions is age-old. The rampant student riots and destruction of school property have been with us over the years. The spate of violent demonstrations hasn’t died out completely. Some educational institutions are still grappling with that problem. The latest one was at Wa, where the rampaging students vandalized school property and the Principal’s private vehicle got burnt.
At the tertiary institutions, the problem seems to be taken to a higher level. What happened at the University of Ghana (Akuafo Hall) recently must not be dismissed as an over-reaction by angry students whose property Amina was alleged to have stolen. The obscene manner in which the alleged thief was treated speaks volumes of the type of indiscipline that is fast emerging in our students.
Other instances of immorality such as open displays of pornographic materials (sex videos) of the juveniles in the Junior Secondary Schools or Senior Secondary Schools should alarm us. Then again, indiscipline among teachers (some of whom are guilty of immoral acts such as rape) is disturbing.
SOLVING THE PROBLEM OF INDISCIPLINE
Indiscipline is so pervasive as to warrant immediate attention at all levels. Former Vice President Aliu Mahama launched the campaign against indiscipline but no serious efforts were made to institutionalize such a programme nor did anybody take up the campaign thereafter. It has died out, achieving little. We must revisit that programme or put in place others to stem the tide. Here are some measures to consider:
• Our religious institutions must support official efforts to stamp out indiscipline at all levels;
• The traditional authorities also have a big role to play;
• Codes of discipline must be enacted and enforced in all the educational institutions and severe action taken against any parent who misconducts him/herself because his/her ward has been disciplined by the school authorities for falling foul of the code. We are aware of instances when some parents physically assaulted teachers who dared discipline their wards;
• Parents must play their parental roles and train their children at home so that when they grow old, they will not deviate from the path of discipline and righteousness;
• One may also want to ask that the government or Ghana Education Service should re-introduce religious and moral education into the curriculum as well as return management of schools to the appropriate religious bodies that established those schools which were absorbed into the public system some time ago. Vesting the power of control and administration in the religious bodies may serve useful purposes other than the indoctrination that most people fear.
• The Judicial system must be retooled to enable law enforcement agencies to function efficiently. It is only then that those who commit acts of indiscipline will be dealt with according to law. Not until punishment for indiscipline is clearly defined and exacted, the situation will not improve for the better.
• The failure of the government to enforce the regulation concerning declaration of assets by MPs and Ministers is an act of incompetence. The public cannot trust politicians to live up to expectation, which doesn’t augur well for our democracy.
Considering the negative impact of indiscipline on our national life, it beats my imagination why no serious effort is being made to solve the problem. Everyone seems to be content with the situation. Is that how we should behave if we want to develop? I don’t think so. We need to make conscientious efforts to ensure that we tackle this problem. It is only then that we can make the difference between what had happened in the past to make us under-developed and what we are doing to change our circumstances for the better. We must prove that our 4th Republic is certainly better than its predecessors in many ways because we have been able to solve the major problems that have prevented our country from developing.
Let’s not judge its quality only in terms of how many general elections we have been able to conduct or the fact that no military coup d’état has taken place to kill this democratic experiment. Indiscipline will not allow us to do so, and we must eliminate it. That will be a good contribution to refining our democracy and ensuring that it can survive the whirligig of time.
Ghanaians are quick to point fingers at other countries that are making progress but fail to recognize the fact that those countries are where they are today because of several factors, one of which is the building of strong institutions of state to take care of acts of malfeasance that undermine genuine national development efforts. We must not only be content with citing those countries as examples but must also make conscious efforts to solve our peculiar problems. Indiscipline is a major canker that is eating away the fabric of our national life. It is our responsibility to fight it. We don’t need any foreign intervention to solve it because it is a self-created problem. This problem of indiscipline is endemic and we must not fold our arms and sit down unconcerned while it eats deep into our social, political, moral, and economic fabric. We must have a clear plan to fight indiscipline together and be disciplined and determined enough to implement such plans. The war against indiscipline must begin right now!!