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Regional News of Monday, 20 November 2017

Source: starrfmonline.com

Peace Council storms SHSs in Upper East Region to curb riots

Police personnel in one of the SHSs in the Upper West Region

A move to put to rest rampant student unrests at second-cycle institutions in the Upper East Region is underway at the instance of the Regional Peace Council.

The council is undertaking a tour of the region’s 34 secondary schools to roll out peace clubs as part of measures being deployed to roll back disturbances in boarding schools.

Between 2014 and 2016 alone, students waged violent protests in 14 public senior high schools, an alarming 70% of the region’s 20 public second-cycle schools at the time. Widely blamed on improper management of grievances, the developments saw school property as well as teachers’ assets vandalised with most of the schools indefinitely closed down in the aftermath of the upheavals.

The first ever inauguration in the region of the ‘campus peace clubs’ initiated by the council took place last Friday at the Sirigu Integrated Senior High School where a drama entitled “Forgive the Royal Child” was enacted by a group of students to highlight the need for dialogue and for peaceful co-existence. The inaugural ceremony, witnessed by the school’s staff, was carried out by the council’s Education Sub-Committee, led by Oscar Mac Avomah. He was accompanied by other members of the committee—Sheik Abubakar Abdul-Rahaman, Rev. Eric Adjei Nmai and Ali Anankpieng.

“As a country, we can point to the recent acts of vandalism and intimidation by some youth that threaten our peace and security. The truth is that the youth are crucial in peace building but they are ill-equipped to engage in dialogue and problem-solving, and this somewhat explains their quick resort to violence.

“Today’s activity is part of the range of activities the National Peace Council believes will help equip our youth with the necessary critical thinking and problem-solving skills needed for their constructive participation in the governance of our country,” said Mr. Avomah at the event.

Alleged Causes of Student Riots

Interacting with Starr News, the Upper East Regional Secretary of the National Peace Council, Ali Anankpieng, listed a number of factors believed to have sparked the riots seen in recent times at boarding schools in the region.

They are “alleged imposition of regulations on students, unwillingness of students to submit to school authority and discipline, alleged charging of unapproved fees, lack of response to student grievances by school management, cancellation of entertainment programmes, allegations of leaked examination papers and delayed examinations, publication of names of students who performed poorly in terminal exams and denial of meals as punishment for misconduct.”

Among the riot-rocked schools were the Awe Senior High School, the Bawku Senior High School, the Bolgatanga Senior High School, the Bolgatanga Technical Institute, the Fumbisi Senior High Agric School, the Gowrie Senior High School, the Kongo Senior High School, the Navrongo Senior High School and the Sandema Senior High School.

The rest include the Sandema Senior High Technical School, the Sirigu Integrated Senior High School, the Zamse Senior High Technical School, the Zebilla Senior High School and the Zuarungu Senior High School.

In 2017, at least two violent demonstrations erupted again two months apart in the region— at the Zuarungu Senior High School in July and the Bolgatanga Senior High School in October. Also in May, this year, the Navrongo Senior High School suffered an until-further-notice shutdown following an open hunger-strike protest waged by students over alleged unfair treatment by one of the school’s dining hall masters.

Headmaster Recounts 2014 Riot; Pledges Support for Peace Club

According to the Headmaster of the Sirigu Integrated Senior High School, Thomas S. Awiah, the turbulence that struck his school in 2014 could have been averted if a peace club had been put in place.

“A misunderstanding between staff and students degenerated into the riot we saw in July, 2014. The school administration and the Regional Director [of Education] came in and they were able to contain the situation. This new development, the peace club, is going to bring about peace. It’s going to bring about good relationship between staff and students,” Mr. Awiah told Starr News.

He added: “If this club had been formed earlier, this problem wouldn’t have arisen. So, I believe—with this peace club being formed, being the first of its kind in the region and we being the pioneers—it is going to go a long way to cement the good relationship between students and staff, staff and staff and the rest of the Sirigu community. And I will do everything possible to make sure this club functions to promote peace in the school.”

The council climaxed the event with swearing-in of six students chosen as executives of the club. They are: David Adombila Anabire, President; Dickson Awinzua Apandaug, Vice President; Jennifer Akeleyira, Akolgo, Secretary; Zeliatu D. Kalifunksiiba, Assistant Secretary; Gifty Ayampoka Atanga, Organiser, and Awudu Assibilla Akuka, Assistant Organiser.

Two teachers, Francis Annan and Joseph Kesse, also were mentioned as patrons for the club.

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