I write as a concerned parent and responsible citizen to draw your attention to a practice within our basic education school system that is becoming wide-spread and could, in the near future, prove detrimental to society, and to our children, in particular.
A number of basic schools, especially in Accra, the country’s capital city, have over the last few years, adopted the practice of compelling their form three students (Junior High School finalists) to lodge on the school premises for a number of weeks leading up to their Basic Education Certificate Examinations (B.E.C.E). The duration or number of weeks, however, is often at each individual school’s discretion.
Some of these schools may have boarding facilities readily available for their students, which is good. However, my concern is with the majority that is day schools with neither the facilities nor license or authorisation to offer lodging to students.
One such schools is in my locality, near Kwashieman in the Ablekuma Sub-Metropolitan area. It is insisting that all final year students lodge at school for four weeks leading up to the exams and pay a fee of GH¢700.00 per head for the period. This school has no dormitories, dining facilities or bathrooms to offer the students. The toilet facilities they presently have at the school are inadequate, to put it politely.
The school, at its meeting held on Tuesday, March 22, 2016, announced to parents of form 3 students that it was compulsory for every student to lodge on campus for the period preceding their final exams and that parents must pay the stipulated fee.
Minister of Education, Professor Jane Naana Opuku-Agyeman, I can only guess that their current infrastructure, which is already bursting at the seams, will serve as classrooms during day and dormitories during the night. Some students sleep on mattresses on bare concrete floors with no protection form mosquitoes and thus, exposed them to diseases, among other challenges.
There would be makeshift bathrooms in unhygienic conditions, and meals prepared and served in environments we cannot be sure of.
This is only one of several such examples of schools practicing this system in Accra alone and I am prepared to name at least two in my area if called upon to do so.
I appeal to you, Minister, on behalf of parents and guardians, who find themselves being coerced to enroll their children and wards in such programmes, to launch an investigation into this practice and issue an edict to stop it.
Not only is this a way of extorting monies form already struggling parents and guardians, but it is my opinion that it also exposes our children to social vices as well as healthcare problems when they lodge under such circumstances and with minimal supervision. Whatever it is that these schools have not been able to teach our children in the past three years that they can impart in just four weeks.
Minister, I urge you to consider the situation as urgent and instill discipline into the basic education school system, specifically those who tend to take the law into their own hands.
A private school is still subject to the general laws governing the basic education sector under the Ghana Education Service.
N.A. Dadson Concerned Parent and Guardian Kwashieman, Accra