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Opinions of Thursday, 12 October 2017

Columnist: Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

Due process or not, sack these SHS heads

There is also a sadistic aspect to such a mischievous contrivance that ought to be recognized There is also a sadistic aspect to such a mischievous contrivance that ought to be recognized

I have already written about the extortion cases of the Headmaster of the Pentecost Senior High School, Mr. Wisdom Blazu, and the Assistant Headmaster of the Daffuor Senior High School, Rev. S. P. Eleworkor, and so I intend to concentrate on the broader question of the sort of rank corruption with which years of National Democratic Congress’ governance has afflicted the country.

This story is about how some 11 heads of some public Senior High Schools decided to cavalierly ignore a directive issued by the Director of the Ghana Education Service (GES), Prof. Kwasi Opoku Amankwaah, that in the wake of the Akufo-Addo-initiated fee-free SHS policy, no administrator was to impose any fees or charges on the parents and/or guardians of any eligible SHS student (See “2 Headmasters Sacked, 9 Interdicted Over Free SHS Extortion” / 9/14/17).

It was all to be expected that quite a remarkable number of SHS administrators would be caught in such an inimical racket. For it is a longstanding culture that has been routinely tolerated by parents and guardians who had absolutely no choice but to have their children educated and be afforded the heady prospect of leading a far better lifestyle than their own generation could afford them.

We must also squarely and sensitively bear in mind that the woeful inability of the government to pay the salaries of these educators in a timely fashion is partly to blame for this seemingly intractable culture of extortion which, over the course of years, became a bounden obligation on the part of the parents and guardians of these SHS students, and a virtually inalienable right on the part of these institutional heads, their assistants and assigns.

And this is where the concerns of the leaders of such professional teachers’ associations as the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) and the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) ought to be envisaged.

But, of course, the law, however tempered it may be with mercy, proverbially speaking, must still be allowed to take its logical course. I am also in perfect agreement with the argument of those legal lights or practitioners who would have the Constitution followed to the letter, by having the administrators at the headquarters of the Ghana Education Service set up a Disciplinary Committee in order to afford the alleged extortionists the due legal process.

The problem here, though, is that under the circumstances, time is not on the side of those who want the clearly fraught activities and/or calendar of the new school year smoothly proceed with no lets or hindrances. And so it is quite likely that due-process-wise, some corners may be cut. But I am here far more concerned with the imperative need for the Akufo-Addo

Administration to make the perennial non-payment of the salaries of teachers and staffs in a timely fashion a thing of the past, rather than being inordinately quick to punish these SHS administrators for crimes and infractions that may clearly have been either deliberately or inadvertently engineered from above, as it were.

In other words, it is almost as if a defective system of economic starvation had been deliberately established to entrap these SHS teachers and administrators. There is also a sadistic aspect to such a patently mischievous contrivance that ought to be poignantly recognized for what it veritably is, namely, an immitigably evil machination.

Nevertheless, the greed factor must also not be facilely overlooked. Which is precisely what the bizarre case of Rev. Franklin Boadu may squarely be about. The Headmaster of the Cape Coast-based Aggrey Memorial SHS is alleged to have underdeclared the intake or enrollment capacity of his institution by more than 1,000. Obviously, the objective here was to reap hugely where absolutely no sweat-inducing cultivation had been effected.

Ultimately, what is clearly at stake here is far more than simply making SHS education readily accessible to our youths throughout the country, irrespective of ethnicity, gender, religion and geographical location. What is equally at stake is the wholesomeness and/or integrity of the process.