Stroke of my pen: Freedom is doing what we like

Wed, 5 Aug 2015 Source: Blege, Alex

Freedom is doing what we like. This is a statement I saw written on a friend’s laptop.

I thought deeply about this statement for a very long time. I asked myself so many questions without coming to a concrete proposition until I thought of an analogy: the train and its railway.

The train is made to travel on rails. However, if a train decides to travel on any other route: a tarred road or a feeder road; what will happen? No one is oblivious of the result.

This month begun with news items on senior high school students who went on the rampage because of one reason or the other. The schools are all in the Northern Ghana: Salaga, Karaga and later Nalerigu Senior High Schools.

The reasons behind the actions of the students ranged from the ban of the use of mobile phones, wearing of slippers to examination hall and the postponement of entertainment. The students destroyed facilities that cost the country so much money to put up.

All human beings have rights, privileges and freedom. It is important to note that no matter how important the rights, privileges or the freedom of individuals are, it is inappropriate to destroy facilities to resolve a misunderstanding especially in this time when the nation is going through crises.

The students have a right. On the contrary, there are rules and regulations that regulate how they should act in times when they are peeved. Will these students who took the law into their hands burn down their parents’ yam or corn farms should their parents refuse to meet one need or the other?

These actions raise the issue of the existence and effectiveness of counselling and guidance units and professionals at these senior high schools and all other senior high schools in this country.

If there is a counselling and guidance unit, do the schools in question have trained professionals who are in constant discussions with the students and school authorities on managing any misunderstanding that may crop up?

A counselling and guidance unit is very crucial in shaping the life and thoughts of young people especially. A counselling unit is one aspect of our educational system which has not been much attention. Its negligence is the result of a lot of the challenges that have to do with academic performance, emotional, social and moral development of students.

The Ministry of Education, Ghana Education Service and the Council of Heads of Assisted Senior High Schools should begin to look at how to ensure that all senior high schools have counselling and guidance units staffed with professionals who are constantly working on the psyche of students.

The counselling unit should have trained educationists who have received training in counselling and guidance. These professionals will complement the work of the teachers in the classroom. Their work will enhance the intellectual, spiritual, emotional and physical development of the students.

Senior High Schools are the levels of our educational system where individuals are really shaped. It is at this level that students need more counselling and guidance about coexistence, choosing courses that reflect their talents, learning effective ways of studying and learn the use of peaceful means of addressing their grievances.

According to the Anamuah Mensah Report (2002), “Meeting the Challenges of Education in the 21st Century”, the committee that put up the report was of the view that the philosophy underlying the educational system in Ghana should produce well-balanced individuals with the requisite knowledge, skills, values and aptitudes for self-actualisation and for the socio-economic and political transformation of the nation?

How is this philosophy going to be achieved if students are not moulded to fit into society? If we argue that students have rights and so they have the freedom to do what pleases them, we shall have a society of young people who believe in an unnecessary aggression.

People should be free; however their freedom should be in line with the rules and regulations that govern the institutions in which they find themselves. Students are the ones who lose most when they go on the rampage.

Teachers are qualified people; their qualifications do not suffer, when students go on the rampage, they will either get transferred to some other school or be retained in the same school when the dust settles.

Traditional leaders, parents and communities need to rise to the occasion of moulding young people in their communities. Parents of these students should be made to understand that they are the first beneficiaries of the success of their wards – they must support school authorities in shaping the attitudes and behaviour of their wards.

Counselling and guidance is one sure way of solving these problems. Freedom is not doing what one likes; it is doing what the rules and regulations permit in the circumstances that prevail at a particular time.


Columnist: Blege, Alex