Graduations; Are they worth their salt?

BY: Eugenia Asare Tandoh
Children performing at a graduation
Children performing at a graduation

Every milestone in life is worth celebrating since it signifies the end of one phase of a person’s life while at the same it marks the beginning of new things to come.

From the beginning of July until the middle of August every year, schoolchildren end one phase of their lives and begin another phase in September of the same year. Kindergarten Two pupils proceed to Class One, Class Six pupils are promoted to junior high school (JHS) while JHS graduates are able to fulfil their dream of pursuing senior high school (SHS) education after BECE.

For each category of pupils and students, this is a grand time indeed. So what better way is there to celebrate their achievements and these changing phases of their lives than to have graduation ceremonies to acknowledge their hard work.

Indeed, graduations can be described as a rite of passage in the academic field; more so it’s the icing on the cake!

A few days to a graduation day is full of activities, some schools hire the services of professional dancers to teach the schoolchildren different kinds of dances, while they are also taught poetry, drama or sketches, songs and rhymes.


Some schools often provide the costumes for the various cultural dances and the choreographies while others require parents to do so.

Although graduations are very beautiful and colourful occasions, they come with huge costs and have caused some parents sometimes to question their importance.

Teachers

In separate interviews in Accra, the <I>Junior Graphic<$> sought the views of teachers, parents,and school heads as to whether graduations were worth their salt, regardless of the hard work and cost involved.

A teacher at Seven Great Princes, Dansoman, Mr Kwame Afram, said his school did not organise graduation ceremonies so there had been no complaints from parents.

However, at the Martin de-Porres School where his children attended, graduations were organised but parents did not pay anything because the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) dues covered the cost of the graduation, he added.

“But during career guidance and counselling times, parents are made to buy the costumes for the professions which their children choose to pursue in future to wear for the day,” he stated.

A teacher at Central Lyceum, along the Spintex Road, said as a teacher, “it is our joy to see the children do and say all the things that we teach them to do during their performances”.

She pointed out that considering all the things children did, parents should not complain too much as it was a joy to see “your child doing all the things that you would never have known they were capable of doing”.

School head

According to the Headmistress of the King and Queen International School, Mrs Lydia Teye, the school used to hold grand graduation ceremonies but as a result of the huge losses they incurred, the school had to stop organising them.

She said in the past, the school organised all the activities for the graduation ceremony and only requested parents to pay a small levy as their contribution, but most parents refused to pay.

“We have started organising graduations again but have now limited the ceremonies to the JHS graduates,” she added.

Parents

“For me, I don’t see the importance of graduations because I see them as money-making ventures for the schools. As I speak to you now, I have been given an envelope from my children’s school for money as my contribution towards the school’s graduation although my child is not graduating,” said Mrs Catherine Allottey, a resident of New Bortianor.

“What surprises me is that anytime I take my children to school, they ask for the envelope as if it is an obligation. They should just stop graduations. They are not necessary, she added.

Another parent, Mrs Stella Quaye, Dansoman said: “Last week, I attended my daughter’s graduation and I was so impressed that I saw the worth of the money and things I had to pay and buy before the graduation.

“I had to buy two different colours of ‘T’ shirts since she was to participate in two activities, both in different costumes. One was GH¢30 so the two cost GH¢60,” she stated.

“Additionally, I was given an envelope for a contribution towards the graduation. Despite these, parents need to have some money on the graduation day for the appeal to solicit for funds for various projects in the school. It is expensive but it is fun and very necessary,” she said happily.

Ms Comfort Boamah, another parent at Madina, said graduations, although costly, were very relevant in the lives of children, asking: “Where else will children have the opportunity to unleash their hidden talents than at such graduation ceremonies?”

She added happily that when the graduation was around the corner, the atmosphere at home was that of singing, recital of rhymes and everything else the children would be involved in. “They even talk in their sleep so most of the time I can’t wait to attend such events where a lot of talents will be on display in spite of all the things we have to do to get there,” she stated.

Graduations are periods of excitement since a lot of work goes into their organisation. It should, however, not be used as occasions to extort money from parents and guardians since they already invest so much in their children’s education. Donations to such programmes should be made optional and not levies that all parents are bound to pay.

Moreover, schools could organise simple but exciting events rather than big ceremonies to save cost and other resources.