KWAMI ALORVI TO THE MINISTER OF EDUCATION: HALT THIS LAWLESSNESS GOING ON IN OUR SENIOR HIGH SCHOOLS

Today I was in the process of finalizing Part 2 of my article written on Sunday 8th November 2020 titled *”Kwami Alorvi to the Minister of Education: Teachers are Worse off Under Your Watch”* when the lawlessness being engaged in by ruling party and government officials in our Senior High Schools caught my attention.

This prompted me to put aside the Part 2 of my article for the mean time in order to address this issue of political lawlessness.

 

*CODE OF CONDUCT AND POLITICS IN SCHOOLS*

One important document that guides the conduct of managers and workers of our education system is the *Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct* hereafter referred to as *The Code.* The Code is a set of codified rules and norms that guide workers in the Ghana Education Service including those in Administration. It aims at ensuring high standard of professionalism, competence and fairness in our schools. The Code does not thus only constitute restraint on the “freedom” of operators in the education sector but equally ensures that conditions for effective teaching and learning are created, maintained and enforced in schools in order to inspire public confidence in teachers and school Administrators.

 

Clause 31 of the Code deals with *Employee and Politics.*

31 (ii) in part states *” No employee shall engage in any activities which are likely to to involve him in political controversy.”*

Simply put politics is not allowed in our schools under any form or circumstance. It is the responsibility of the Sector Minister to ensure that the Ghana Education Service and its Governing Council enforce this rule in a fair and unbiased manner. It is however, becoming clear that the Minister of Education Hon. Matthew Opoku Prempeh and the President of the Republic are not willing to demonstrate fairness.

 

*THE CURRENT LAWLESSNESS*

I watched with sadness on TV3 on Monday 23rd November 2020, the Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, doing political campaigning in Yendi Senior High School. As I was trying to recover from the shock occasioned by this avoidable lawlessness, the next news item showed the President of the Republic himself, H. E. Nana Addo Danquah Akufo Addo, on the Campus of Aburi Girls Senior High School, also doing political campaigning among students! Aburi Girls SHS gate and campus were adorned with NPP colours and paraphernalia. What’s happening to our education system under Hon. Matthew Opoku Prempeh and President Nana Addo?

Where is Prof. Kwasi Opoku Amankwa and his GES Management?And where are Mr. Michael Nsowah and his Governing Council members? Why are the Headmaster of Yendi Senior High School and Headmistress of Aburi Girls Senior High School still at post?

I ask this question not because I don’t appreciate the magnitude of the challenge that my two colleague Heads were confronted with for not being able to stand against the President and his Vice engaging in political campaigning in their schools in violation of the GES rules. I ask the question in the spirit of fairness.

 

*PRECEDENCE IN TEMPANE SHS*

If readers would recall, in October 2018, the Headmaster of Tempane Senior High School in the Upper East Region, Mr. Dominic Amoale Ndego was swiftly interdicted by the GES. His offence was “allowing” the then NDC National Organizer Aspirant, Capt. Joshua Hamidu Akamba, to interact with students as he passed through the school on his campaign tour in the run up to the NDC’s National primaries. The Headmaster was not present in the School when Capt. Akamba passed through, yet he was blamed for granting him access.

 

Both the Director General of the GES Prof. Kwasi Opoku Amankwa and Council Chairman Mr. Michael Nsowah were loud and cacophonous on national radio and television condemning political campaigning in schools. Both officials vowed to the nation that GES would enforce the ban on political activities in Basic and Senior High Schools in the country. So what has changed? Is the enforcement selective and applying only to the NDC? In fact it took the students of Mr. Dominic Amoale Ndego to stage a hunger strike protest to have their Headmaster reinstated.

 

*BEGINNING OF THE LAWLESSNESS*

 

i. *Free SHS Ambassador*

In 2018 the Ministry of Education appointed a Free SHS Ambassador in the person of Rahim Banda and

on 18th June 2020, commissioned and equipped him with a branded new Pick-up vehicle to tour the Senior High Schools. When news broke out about Rahim Banda doing political campaigning in the schools for the NPP, the GES issued a face saving statement that it was going to investigate the matter. Many days have since passed and Ghanaians are still waiting for the report of that investigation. What was the GES going to investigate about Rahim Banda anyway when it partnered the Ministry in giving out the GETFund funded pick-up to him to campaign for the ruling government?

 

ii. *General Secretary of NPP*

Even when the Ministry of Education and the GES barred parents from visiting their wards in the Senior High Schools during the partial reopening of schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the NPP General Secretary John Boadu was granted unimpeded access to the Senior High Schools during the voters registration exercise to share food and drinks to students and engage in political campaign.

 

iii. *NPP National Youth Organizer*

The National Youth Organizer of the NPP Henry Nana Boakye was also spotted in Kumasi Anglican School and some other Senior High Schools in Kumasi campaigning among students. Henry Nana Boakye was even seen in Nursing Colleges in 2016 campaigning. NDC never sanctioned the Principals of those colleges as done to Tempane SHS Headmaster in 2018.

 

In all the above instances of clear violations of the Code of Conduct, GES and the Ministry of Education looked on unconcerned. And now the President of the Republic himself and his Vice are seen in two separate Senior High Schools in the Eastern and Northern Regions respectively, engaging in political campaigns. This lawlessness is unfortunate. Will the Heads of those schools grant John Mahama and Prof. Naana Jane Opoku Agyeman, access to their students for political campaign? I guess No, because they will be sacked if they dare. There lies the political controversy spelt out in the Code.

 

*OTHER INFRACTIONS*

i. *Exam Malpractice*

No doubt other infractions are taking place in the SHSs with the tacit approval of Government. The 2020 WASSCE questions were reportly leaked to schools and students by Ministry of Education officials, the first in the history of these exams. Though WAEC’s Public Relations Head Mrs Agnes Tei Cudjoe was seen and heard on TV confirming that the Examination Body saw screenshots of the Mathematics questions and other subjects on social media prior to the date of the exams, the papers were not cancelled. The results of these leaked papers are out and we are being invited by these officials in government, who failed to protect the integrity of these exams to accept that the Akufo Addo Graduates have performed creditably. The results of the Maths paper which was leaked one week ahead of the date scheduled for the paper, are being touted as the best in the past six years by no mean a person than the President himself.

 

Even the teacher in Asuom Senior High Technical School who was caught red handed by the GES Director General himself, Prof. Kwasi Opoku Amankwa, distributing answers to the questions to the students he was invigilating, is back to the classroom doing his normal work whilst we were told that he was interdicted pending investigations into his misconduct. The erring teacher was later identified by ruling party officials as one of their kind, who was doing the bid of the party so he was set free. It was even reported that the Headmaster of that school allegedly dished out an amount of *GHC10,000.00* to the Director General from the school coffers to influence him to kill the case.

 

Meanwhile the GES Code of Conduct again frowns upon examination malpractices. These are what the Code of Conduct says in clause 37 under *”Malpractices at Public Examinations:*

The Clause states:

i. *No employee of the Service acting as invigilator/supervisor shall offer assistance to candidates at any examinations.*

ii. *No employee of the Service shall leak public/internal examination questions to any candidate.*

iii. *No employee of the Service shall connive at and/or condone collusion/copying at examinations.*

 

Sadly all the above prohibitions were flouted with impunity not only by invigilators, but also by Assistant Headmasters and Headmasters in charge of the examinations. The GES and Ministry turned their blind eyes on these malpractices. Invigilators were allowed to teach students in the examination rooms. Question papers were sneaked out of the exam rooms to be worked on by subject teachers and answers openly brought back to the rooms for students to copy. In fact, evidence shows that GES and government tacitly encouraged cheating through their inaction because government wanted good results from the *Akufo Addo Graduates* for political reasons. For the GES Director General and the Minister, flouting the rules becomes an offence only when offenders suspected to be NDC members are involved. If the people are identified as ruling party members, they go scot free because they have the support of government.

 

What a dishonest leadership are we experiencing in our education sector of late? Some of these students with the fraudulent results, I have learnt, are buying admission forms for Nursing Colleges and Medical schools to train as nurses and doctors. How I pray that those behind these fraudulent exams will one day come face to face with these students with the fraudulent results in the hospitals as nurses and doctors attending to them.

 

This impunity by ruling party and Government officials in the SHS must stop. It is breeding indiscipline and division among students and teachers. The President of the Republic and the Vice President cannot claim ignorance of these rules. They need to set good examples and help our Heads of School to enforce the rules without fear or favour. No Head of School, no matter how professional they are, can have the courage to tell the President that he is not allowed by the rules and regulations of the GES to do political campaigns in schools.

 

*MY MFANTSIPIM SCHOOL EXPERIENCE*

 

In my 22 years teaching in Mfantsipim, I read and learnt a lot about the three Headmasters I served under as well as others that came before them.

i. *Mr. J. W. Abruquah, 1963-1970.*

In 1968, the Headmaster of Mfantsipim School Mr. J. W. Abruquah refused to allow Prof. K. A. Busia to campaign among students of the school as the rules stipulated. Prof. Busia was then in charge of Civic Education. When Prof. Busia’s Progress Party won the elections in 1969, he dismissed Mr. J. W. Abruquah from the GES in 1970. The Headmaster left Ghana for the US in fear.

ii. *Mr. B. K. Dontwi, 1980-1997.*

He was the first Headmaster I served under when I was posted to the school in 1990. A very calm and principled Headmaster, I was told Mr. Dontwi even dismissed the son of a former Head of State from the school for misconduct. His own son who also violated the school rules was also withdrawn from the school.

iii. *Mr. C. K. Ashun, 1997-2008*

He also, while I was a teacher in the school, suspended the son of an ex- Vice President of the Republic for misconduct. He also resisted all attempts by the powers that be to get me out Mfantsipim between 2006 and 2008.

iv. *Mr. Kwame Mieza Edjah, 2008 -2013.*

He is the last Headmaster under whom I served before moving out in 2012. A very frank and principled Head, he too resisted the pressure to push me out of Mfantsipim in 2008.

Such are the moral and professional lessons instilled in both teachers and students by Headmasters of Mfantsipim which has become part of the legacy we live by.

iv. *My Own Experience*

In 2016, the DCE of Ekumfi Hon. Ibrahim Dawson, (who is now a traditional ruler) wrote to me as Headmaster (on Contract) of the new J. E. Atta Mills SHS in Ekumfi Otuam to release our new school bus donated by JM’s government in June 2016 to be used by the NDC to transport party supporters to Cape Coast Stadium for the party’s campaign launch. I held an emergency management meeting on the request. The school replied and humbly declined the request on grounds that the event was a political activity. The DCE Hon. Ibrahim Dawson and the MP Hon. Abeiku Crentsil understood our position when I took them through the Code of Conduct. My teachers feared I would be sanctioned. Thank God I was not sacked. Then came the NPP in 2017. The NPP DCE of Ekumfi Hon. Bernard Bright Grant, called me on phone and requested for the bus to be released to him to convey party activists to a party program in the district. The bus had by then conveyed Education Accountants to their Annual Conference in Takoradi. By a decision of school management, I conveyed this to the DCE and also drew his attention to our Code of Conduct. Hon. B. B. Grant directed I should recall the bus from Takoradi which of course was not feasible.

 

I was glad to hear from Hon. Grant that he had seen records at the Assembly of my denial of the NDC of the use of the bus in 2016. But he quickly added, he and the NPP would not tolerate what he called *”that nonsense.”* Soon after that encounter, when my contract had not expired, I was informed by two colleague Heads that the Ekumfi DCE and the Cape Coast MCE Hon. Ernest Arthur told them I would not be allowed to remain at post. My senior, the GES Deputy Director General Mr. Anthony Boateng, summoned me to his office in Accra. He had one message for me: *”I don’t think they will allow you to remain at post. Get ready for your replacement,”* said the Deputy Director General. Two days later I was replaced by then NPP Constituency Secretary of Ekumfi as Acting Headmaster.

 

I walked out of that school in dignity satisfied that I had executed all objectives I had set for myself for the new school. I had interviewed and recruited adequate teaching and non teaching staff, constructed a football field for the school, established WAEC Examination Center in the school and left an amount of *GHC97,000.00* in the school coffers which I had intended to use to beautify the school compound and construct a school gate and Security Post. The first batch of over 300 students that took the WASSCE in May 2018, after my exit in February 2018, also did well in spite of the strict supervision under which they wrote the exams. One student had *A1 in five (5) subjects.* My only regret before leaving, and even now, is that GES has still not paid the salary arrears of the teachers I recruited in 2016. They are still not captured in the list of teachers whose arrears are to be paid this November 2020.

 

*MOVING FORWARD*

It is an undeniable fact that coming against government officials with one’s professionalism is not an easy thing especially under this intimating Minister. It comes with consequences.

The Minister, Hon. Matthew Opoku Prempeh should tell the President and the Vice that the rules don’t permit them to campaign in the schools.

CHASS as a body and the GES need to resolve this problem to give Heads of School the peace to administer the schools. In a situation where Heads are divided in their actions with some applying the rules while others don’t, some heads will continue to be at the mercy of politicians. Should the next NDC government relieve the Heads of Aburi Girls and Yendi SHS of their posts for infringing on the Code of Conduct, what will Ghanaians say? Remember the NPP in 2017 removed six Regional Directors of Education from office for their suspected links with the NDC.

The bottom line is that this political lawlessness in the schools must stop. If not it will be unfair to fault students who use unprintable words to describe the President of the Republic as witnessed during the 2020 WASSCE.

 

*#Still a Citizen*

 

*Dated: Tuesday 24th November 2020*

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