The Erimon Senior High and Technical School in the Lawra District was last Sunday closed down following what has been described as a violent life-and-property-threatening demonstration by students of the institution who were protesting against disciplinary measures in the school.
Reports say parts of the dormitories, administrative block and classrooms were damaged in the unrest. Following the incident, a five-member committee has been set up to investigate the circumstances leading to the demonstration and submit a report within one week to the Ghana Education Service (GES).
While protests and demonstrations are not new in the country’s educational set up, the Daily Graphic is worried about the violent nature of such demonstrations and the cost to infrastructure in the institutions.
Early this month, at least 10 students of the Gyaama Pensan Senior High School (SHS) in the Ashanti Region were hospitalised when they sustained injuries during a demonstration against the headmaster of the school. The irate students vandalised some properties, including the headmaster’s bungalow and the assembly hall.
In December 2017, students of the Fumbisi Senior High/Agricultural School rioted because of delayed supper, broke into the food store and looted food items. They also destroyed property running into thousands of Ghana cedis, while 11 students sustained injuries.
A violent demonstration by students of the Bolgatanga SHS (Big BOSS) over the death of a mate resulted in the vandalisation of at least three cars belonging to teachers and a teacher’s residence.
There have been many others across the country where school infrastructure has been vandalised. These are worrying incidents that need to be tackled head-on to avoid the escalation of such situations.
Some time in 2016 the National Peace Council undertook an exercise in the Upper East Region where student riots had become rampant at the time. The council undertook a tour of the region’s 34 SHSs to roll out peace clubs as part of measures to stop disturbances in boarding schools.
These disturbing incidents, apart from the high cost of repair that has to be borne by the schools and, by extension, the state, have the tendency to disturb academic work and the performance of students.
We note that while it is a fact that the youthful exuberance of students tends to be the motivating factor that triggers most disturbances, it cannot be denied that a number of these demonstrations have been the result of improper management of students’ grievances, many of which could have been resolved if the complaints had been handled well by the authorities.
As part of the solution, we encourage school authorities to have regular interaction with students and their leaders to ensure that the former get a buy-in of the students in the day-to-day running of the schools.
The students must also recognise that as part of organised institutions, they are bound by the rules and regulations of those institutions and that any contrary behaviour or act could have dire consequences for them as individuals, their schools and the state.