WHEN students misbehave in school, the onus is on the authorities to apply the necessary sanctions against them to deter others from committing similar mistakes.

But when the disciplinary action goes beyond bounds, it creates serious problems which affect the students and the entire education sector.

The recent report in the media that three students of the St. John’s Grammar High School in Accra, were prevented from writing the Christian Religious Studies paper in the ongoing West African Senior School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE), because they were wearing bushy hair, contrary to the school rules and regulations, is an issue worth discussing.

The authorities, we are told, decided to ban the students from writing the examination, as a form punishment for violating the rules and regulations of the school.

The action dealt a big blow to the students, since they have automatically failed that paper, for not writing the examination.

One of the rules of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) is that, once a student registers with it, a contract has been entered into between it and the student and as such, school administrations should handle disciplinary issues within examination periods with a lot of caution and restraint.

That does not mean that students who misbehaved should get away with it, without being sanctioned. But in applying the necessary disciplinary action, care must be taken, not to infringe on the rights of the students and jeopardise their future, just as happened to these unfortunate students of St. John’s Grammar SHS.

In-as-much as the students flouted the rules and regulations of the school, it would have been much more prudent, if the disciplinary action had been taken against them after the Christian Religious Studies paper.

The tendency of applying sanctions during examination periods obviously affect the students’ psyche, and create unnecessary fear and tension in them, and eventually affect their performances.

We condemn the action of the school authorities, and support the directive of the Ghana Education Service (GES), that the students should be prepared adequately to write the paper at its own cost.

As administrators, the school authorities should have known better that their action amounted to scuttling the education of the students, which is against the law.

We also want to caution students that they are enjoined by the Code of Ethics of the GES, to respect and live by the rules and regulations of their schools, in order not to fall prey to disciplinary actions, including outright dismissals.

We hope the case of St. John’s Grammar, would serve as a lesson for other school authorities to be careful with the way they apply sanctions on erring students.

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