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School CP - July 2005
Ghanaian Chronicle, Accra, 18 July 2005
Fees and Other Matters: The Woes of School Heads
By I.K. Gyasi
Diseases desperate grown By desperate appliance are reliev'd, Or not at all. - From Shakespeare's play HAMLET.
THE ABOVE observation by King Claudius in William Shakespeare's play HAMLET has been rendered in modern English as "Desperate diseases require desperate remedies."
Going by the front page lead story of the Ghanaian Times of Tuesday, July 12, 2005, it seemed that a "desperate disease" had afflicted Sunyani Secondary School in the Brong Ahafo region.
The disease? The students, mostly final year students, owed the school millions of cedis.
Apparently despite "human face" approaches by the school authorities to collect the fees, the students proved unyielding.
According to the newspaper report, it was not as if the parents and guardians of the 'offending' students had not given the fees to their children and wards to pay.
The students had the money all right but reasons best known to them, they were hanging on to it in the hope that they would be able to outwit the school authorities, write the final year Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination and go away without paying a pesewa.
When the School authorities adopted the "human face" method of gently asking the students to pay the fees, they (the students) escaped and even pelted the staff that went after them with stones. That was the story. That was the 'disease' that afflicted the school.
And what was the 'desperate appliance' adopted by the School to rid itself of that cancer that was taking the life of that School?
According to the newspaper account, the authorities wetted the mattress of the offending students and also caned them (the students, not the mattresses).
In no time some ¢60 million of the debt of over ¢200 million had been collected.
You might think that the recalcitrant students would be condemned for trying to make use of the hard-earned money paid as fees by their parents.
On the contrary, it is the School authorities who have come under attack. I hear the 'desperate appliance' adopted by them has been described as inhuman, crude and barbaric. I have heard it said that the method even infringed on the human rights of the offending students. It is said that the students should not have been roused from bed so late in the night and caned while their mattresses were wetted.
I am sure that the Headmaster and his staff at Sunyani Secondary School are not sadists who enjoy putting their students, especially the final year students, to acute discomfort.
Of course, caning the students to a point where some of them reportedly sustained some cuts or bruises cannot be accepted. Still, it is unfair not to look at the utterly indefensible behaviour of these students who, among other youths, are supposed to be future leaders of our country.
What hope are they giving us that they can do better than us when, right now, they show that they are so morally deficient that spending their parent's money meant to pay fees does not prick their consciences?
If I may be permitted to generalize, I should say that we Ghanaians could be softhearted to a fault. Most often, our sympathies go to the wrongdoer but not the wronged person.
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