Mr. Kofi Abotsi, the Dean of GIMPA School of Law, on Wednesday noted that the conversion of missionary schools into public entities is bound to fail, since it was not supported by concrete policy initiatives.
“The attempt at converting the ownership of schools and transforming them has been largely stillborn with grave consequences for the institutional developments of these schools”.
“Our schools have over the period been stuck in the vortex of stagnation caused largely by policy confusions, political instability and a general lack of direction,” he stressed.
Mr Abotsi, who was speaking on the topic, “Religious tolerance in educational institutions: A legal perspective” in Accra, said this development has affected the institutional vision of the schools and their ultimate performances as educational institutions.
The lecture was organised by St Augustine’s Past Students Union (APSU) to commemorate St Augustine Feast Day, which falls on August 28.
St Augustine of Hippo, who is the Patron Saint of St Augustine’s College, was born at Thagaste (the modern day city of Souk Ahras in Algeria) and died on August 28, 430 AD at Hippo Regius, Algeria.
Mr Abotsi, who is a member of the APSU 1993- Year Group said given the place and contribution of missionary schools to national development and cohesion, the failure of the policy process is deeply regrettable and ought to be revisited in order to harmonise and smoothen its impact on school development.
“Recent performances of our high school graduates, certainly calls for concern. A marked departure from the days when Ghana led West Africa in examination performances, our children are at bottom of recent performances especially on the mathematics and science index”.
“A holistic review of the management aspects of our educational institutions is an urgent necessity.”
Mr Abotsi said before the 90s, communal solidarity in schools was the norm and was largely taken for granted.
“Challenging the group order was not only unwise, but was deeply viewed as anti-social and a violation of the value code of schools”.
“Particularly in mission schools, partaking in religious affairs of the school community was at the centre of educational training and indeed provided the fulcrum for discipline, value inculcation, and the overall academic enterprise”.
“Therefore while the tensions between orthodoxy and Protestantism have always been there, in our schools, the issue of confronting the very compulsive character of worship and other religious ceremonies was hardly ever raised”.
Mr Abotsi said the inception of the 1992 Constitution, with the multitude of rights and liabilities has come to imply that the issue of school discipline and administration has assumed national and constitutional dimensions”.
“On the other hand, today’s schools represent a mixture of public-private partnerships- a partnership regime, which has largely arisen accidently and seems confused in orientation, generally speaking”.
“For example, ask of the ownership of erstwhile mission schools and you will readily be told it is government. Yet the average respondent will also be quick to add that St Augustine’s College is a Catholic school, as is Mfantsipim a Methodist school and the list goes on.”
Mr Hackman Owusu Agyeman, a former Member of Parliament for New Juaben North and Minister in the Kufuor’s regime and a past student of St Augustine’s College, described the lecture as a novelty in the wake of the religious tension the country is experiencing.
Describing himself as a converted Catholic, he said he was a Methodist as a student in St Augustine, but was not subjected to any religious regimentality.