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GES endorse suspension of over 400 truant students of Kumasi Girls SHS

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

The Ashanti Regional Directorate of Education has endorsed a decision by the authorities of the Kumasi Girls’ Senior High School (KUGISS) to suspend  400 final-year boarding students for truancy after they had broken bounds by leaving the school compound without permission.

Thirty of the girls, who were found in tight sexy dresses about 2 a.m. and walking towards the Abrepo Junction, will not be readmitted to the boarding house.

They will stay at home to write the West Africa Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) because the authorities see their case as “very serious”.

The rest will be on suspension for one week, meaning they will return to the school just a day to the beginning of the WASSCE.

The girls are said to have scaled the walls of the school on the blind side of the school’s security personnel to enter town in the night during the Easter festivities after an official decision had been taken that final-year students would not be allowed to go home for the

Easter festivities due to the closeness of their examination.

With the WASSCE due to take off fully on April 9, 2013, the disciplinary action meted out to the girls had not been received kindly by some of their parents, but the Headmistress of the school, Madam Mary Prah-Ampofo, and the Ashanti Regional Director of Education, Mr Kofi Sarfo Kantanka, insisted that it was irrevocable.

“We need to instil discipline in our students and that is why I fully support the position taken by the school authorities,” Mr Sarfo-Kantanka told the Daily Graphic Wednesday.

One of the affected parents attempted to storm the school to confront the headmistress but she was forced to retreat at the main gate to the school.

The regional director expressed regret at the position taken by some parents in reaction to the suspension.

“I have spoken to some of the parents who are concerned about the timing of the action. But that does not mean we should shelve the case. We have to instil some fear in the young ones, so that they don’t joke with their education.

“We need to maintain a safe compound for our students, and as I always say, the need to create the best possible environment for learning is the motivating factor behind students’ behaviour and attendance policies,” he said.

Asked whether the headmistress consulted him before going ahead to announce the decision, he said it was not every disciplinary action that should first receive the consent of the directorate of education.

“It is when it comes to decisions such as dismissals that my office has to be consulted first. In the substantive action, which is just to instil fear in the students, the school administration had every right to go ahead with it before informing me,” he stressed.

Mr Sarfo-Kantanka commended the headmistress for the decision, saying, ”She is one of the few school heads who do not joke with discipline in their schools.”

The suspended students are among 1,130 final-year students writing this year’s WASSCE in the school.

They were expected to remain in the school until they finished the examination on Friday, May 17, 2013.

Giving details of the case, Madam Prah-Ampofo said the students would have been made day students were it not for the fact that they were WASSCE candidates.

According to her, the decision of the one-week suspension was arrived at in consultation with the board and the PTA chairmen of the school and with the blessing of the Ashanti Regional Director of Education.

She recalled that last Tuesday the school invited parents of all final-year students to advise their children on their poor attitude towards academic work and encourage them for the task ahead.

She said on Friday, March 29, 2013, a teacher of the school reported to her that he had met some final-year students of the school heading towards Abrepo Junction around 2 a.m. but, on realising the presence of the teacher, they took to their heels.

She said based on that information, the school authorities conducted a roll call of all final-year students around 7 a.m. that same Friday and realised that some students had left the school.

Again, about 6.30 p.m. the same day, the authorities retrieved skin-tight dresses, some second-hand clothes and a mobile phone from one student who had just alighted from a taxi on the school compound.

Madam Prah-Ampofo said another roll call was conducted around 9 p.m. the same day and it was realised that many more final-year students had left the school.

It, therefore, became necessary to post the suspension notice on the school notice board after the official decision had been taken.

She said per the Ghana Education Service (GES) policy, all final-year students, and for that matter WASSCE candidates, were not supposed to go on vacation but  remain in the school till the last paper.

The headmistress indicated that the school authorities were much concerned about the proper upkeep of the students, especially the academic output of final-year students.

She said that was because after the GNAT and NAGRAT strike, the teachers came to offer their support, even during the Easter holidays, and wondered why “these students should take these opportunities for granted and run away without permission”.

The Chairman of the PTA, Mr Akwasi Anning Badu, confirmed the story and said parents fully supported the decision.

He told the Daily Graphic that it was unbecoming of young girls who were about to write their final examination to break school rules to that extent.

“We need to instil the needed discipline in them, so that they don’t go back to such bad ways,” he added.

Story by Kwame Asare Boadu and Joseph Kyei-Boateng