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A message for contemplation: how to destroy a nation

BY: Ajoa Yeboah-Afari

For those keeping count of such developments, I think there’s another ‘first’ for Ghana: the first country where students go on rampage because they are not allowed to cheat in an examination!

Nevertheless, I think that there is one reassuring aspect of the shocking West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) affair which also needs to be highlighted: that we do have some principled people in Ghana.

School authorities, teachers and invigilators who were attacked had allegedly incurred the anger of the students simply because they had not aided them to cheat; they had insisted on strict ‘social distancing’.

While Ghana Education Service sanctions are being applied to the 13 students and those who were prepared to help them to cheat, I suggest that it is also important for the teachers and other officials who refused to participate in the immorality to be recognised for their admirable stance.

The 2020 WASSCE for Ghanaian candidates, which commenced on July 20, with 375, 737 candidates from 976 schools, ends on September 5.
When last week, news began circulating that there had been rioting in some of the schools where the WASSCE was taking place, it sounded incredible. Unfortunately, not only was it confirmed, there were even videos online about some of the incidents.

Their misbehaviour included, astoundingly, openly insulting President Nana Akufo-Addo because, seemingly, in their warped thinking, the President should have ensured that their exam questions were made easy for them.

They also attacked invigilators. More shocking still, some school heads were alleged to be the instigators of the assault on invigilators for being “too strict”, not allowing them to cheat.
Some of the involved schools included Sekondi College; Tweneboah Kodua SHS, in Kumawu; Battor SHS and Juaben SHS

A statement by the WAEC, too, condemned the assault of its officials and a Daily Graphic reporter by candidates of the Bright Senior High School, at Kukurantumi and relocated that exam centre to another school.

This bizarre ‘allow us to cheat’ story would be a good entry for the ‘Odd News’ listings, extremely amusing. But, sadly, it’s about the scandalous attitude of some of our country’s ‘future leaders’.

Despite their dismissal by the GES and banning them from writing the rest of their examination, following the intervention of President Akufo-Addo, the students were to be allowed to write the examination, although they remain expelled.
Furthermore, the GES directed, students involved would only be allowed into the school compound to write their remaining papers accompanied by their guardian.

Additionally, “all students of the schools where property were vandalised should be surcharged for the full cost of the damage”
One of the videos shows a boy shouting: “Nana Addo, look at the paper! The paper is very hard! … Free education like this? Take your fucking free education. We don’t want free education again!”

I have quoted some of the abominable language the students used for record purposes.
Is this the ‘thank you’, from the students involved, beneficiaries of the free SHS, to the President and taxpayers?

I wonder how their parents must be feeling as they will have to ask themselves some hard questions, pondering where they went wrong with the upbringing of their wards.

However, thankfully, only a handful out of the thousands of candidates demonstrated the extreme behaviour.
This being the first batch of beneficiaries of the Free Senior High School, it’s understandable that the Government would do everything to ensure good results.

They had reportedly been supplied past examination questions to help them to know what to expect in the examination. This has been cited by critics as contributing to a sense of entitlement in some of the students.
Students have been using past exam questions for guidance for ages, so what offence did the GES commit with that assistance?

Anyway, the review, allowing them to write their papers is commendable. None of them should be given the excuse in future to use the ban as having impacted negatively on their opportunities.

But there is what seems to be yet another ‘first’ in this disturbing narrative: the requirement that their guardians are to escort their wards to and from school premises for their examinations. This should have an impact on not only on the students and their families, but also their community.

They should also know that their conduct might even affect their future job prospects.
President Akufo-Addo’s passion to expand access to education has been well established. But perhaps the following, shared on a social media platform, sums up better the rationale and importance:

“At the entrance gate of a university in South Africa, the following message was posted for contemplation:
“‘Destroying any nation does not require the use of atomic bombs or the use of long range missiles. It only requires lowering the quality of education and allowing cheating in the examinations by the students’ (emphasis added).

“Patients die at the hands of such doctors; buildings collapse at the hands of such engineers; money is lost at the hands of such economists and accountants … justice is lost at the hands of such judges….”
And, it concludes, “The collapse of education is the collapse of the nation.”

Thus surely, the school staff and officials who refused to allow the cheating deserve to be honoured by the GES.
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