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Opinions of Friday, 6 March 2015

Columnist: Isang, Sylvester

The Mission Schools Brahaha


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Japan is now building solar panels on the sea to supply more cheap energy to its populace. The sun is burning us in Ghana and all we can do is always to engage in useless public discourses week after week. Muslims and Christians have co-existed peacefully in this country despite the current policy on morning devotion or worship in our pre-tertiary education system. Let's not forget that morning devotion or worship is part of the formation (moral formation) of the students. Many people mistake morning worship or devotion whether in Islam or Christianity as having same effect as religious indoctrination. This is certainly not the case. I think religion should be the least thing to divide a people because it is solely based on one's faith and that faith comes from within your heart-Has any Moslem or Christian died and come back to tell us that God is only accepting his or her faith members into heaven? Look at the disappearance of Castro, despite the uncountable number of men of God, Sheiks, Mallams etc could anyone rightly reveal what happened to Castro and that fine frafra lady?.
All the noise we make, the hippocracy of our worships whether as Muslims or Christians will certainly not take us to heaven, don't forget others don't even believe in this or existence of God. I am however, not part of this group of people. For me inner reflection and loving your neighbour as yourself takes precedence to Hippocratic worships so far as salvation is concerned.
With my little history, I think we have two streams of mission schools. Schools that were solely built by the missions to offer education to the public as part of the mission's social responsibility in towns or communities where they needed to proselytize the word. The second category of mission schools initially were built to produce preachers who will later hold the button of the church. As a Catholic I can mention the Xaviers, Notre Dames, St. James and so on. Whilst every body irrespective of your faith could enter the first stream of schools not everybody could certainly enter the second category. Not even every Catholic because entering the second stream was solely based on the student's own acceptance to be trained to become a shepherd of the church. Following government's adoption of mission schools the policies with regards to enrollment in the second category of mission schools changed especially for the Senior High whereby students of other faiths are placed by the government computerized placement scheme whilst the church in some cases also enrolls through its own internal selection mechanism the remaining percentage of the students. But there is an agreement between the government and the mission school owners to the extent that the missions (whether Christian or Muslim) manage their schools although the teachers are recruited and paid by the government but the heads of the schools are selected by the missions-the case of Catholic, Islamic and Presby Education Units under GES as evidence. People jump to conclude that once government is funding the schools then missions schools cannot fail to obey the government. Well, government was having capacity when it signed the agreement that the missions should still run their schools although it will provide the funding and this was based on the fact that government is constitutionally bound to provide education to every citizen (especially primary education) whereas such a duty is only a corporate social responsibility of the mission. Once government wants expansion in the mission schools to cover many students then government must certainly take up the cost of such expanded system. People are rushing to quote the Constitution of 1992 the fact that it provides freedom of religion and discourages all forms of discrimination. Yes! that is true but although we know this in the Constitution it is only the Court that has the power to say what that really means- the law is and in doing that there are various rules and principles that the Court would be guided by and if what is pertaining in mission schools whether Islamic or Christian constitutes violations of the letter and spirit of the Constitution. Now the matter is in the Supreme Court and definitely we will have a ruling on that.
What I think we should focus our discussion on in the present case is that we should be rotating the worships among the various faiths in fully managed public schools like I can vividly recall we used to do in Tamale Training College (rotate worship between Islam/Christianity. But certainly this arrangement is impossible say in T.I Ahmadiya SHS or Xavier or Notre Dame because of obvious reasons. If we should outlaw morning devotion in mission schools then the basic purpose for having mission schools would be defeated- moral formation whether Christian or Islamic mission. Already we are beset with numerous challenges as a nation not only in the education sector but across all sectors. Are we prepared for more challenges from this issue?
Author : Isang Sylvester
Email: applisa2000@yahoo.co.uk

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